Reviewed by Fiona Talbot-Leigh
14th March 2017
Broadway World Adelaide
Hailing from the South West Township of Soweto in Johannesburg, the Soweto Gospel Choir brings together South Africa’s greatest singers, performing a repertoire that includes traditional songs handed down through the generations, African Gospel, South African freedom songs, as well as Soweto Gospel Choir’s unique reinterpretations of international classics.
The Choir is one of the world’s greatest vocal ensembles and undoubtedly the most acclaimed. Since its formation in 2002, the Choir has won four Grammys (two in musical collaboration), television’s Emmy Award for its collaboration with Bono and U2, plus an Academy Award nomination for its work with Peter Gabriel.
The Choir has toured the Globe performing in the Worlds greatest concert halls, as well as headlining at festivals including Montreal Jazz Festival, and the Edinburgh Fringe. The Choir has performed for and celebrated with the leaders of the world including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Presidents Obama and Clinton, as well as the British Royal Family, and this Fringe we are fortunate to have them here in Adelaide.
The audience walked away from this performance having been steeped in tradition and history. Over the course of the evening many of the songs that were sung were taught to the choir members by their own grandparents and so a ticket to this show is the opportunity to bear witness to the current generation who bring these songs and stories to life, and what incredible performers they are.
Language is no barrier, as all one had to do was to look at each and every one of the choir member’s faces to see the emotion and passion that was in their hearts as they sang a number of songs from their homeland, dotted with the occasional ones sung in English.
Apart from their voices the only accompaniment was from a drum, some light percussion and a keyboard, but mostly it was just the choir themselves singing a Capella, with the most beautiful harmonies.
As an audience member you are highly spoilt as each performer over the course of the evening gets a chance to shine and sing solo, and some of the female members could really give J Lo and Streisand a run for their money.
Everything about this show is bright, colourful and energised, all those on stage fed off the energy that was emanating from each other, and this was then shared with the audience as their beautiful voices washed over us all.
The singing was complemented by wonderful dancing and spontaneous humour, and the audience were more than happy to stand and sing in a stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah as the grand finale.
The Soweto Choir has been playing to full houses and I can see why it has been one of the highlights at the Royal Croquet Club. If you love music, harmonies and rich voices, you won’t be disappointed with this show. Soweto plays until March the 19th