The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in 2002 and embraces the diverse music of South Africa, a country with eleven official languages and subsequent communities. Guiding us on a tour of its sonorous heritage, the choir holds a phenomenal ability to create a rich and exquisitely harmonious tapestry out of simple ingredients: usually just the human voice and some form of traditional drumming as accompaniment.
The Soweto Gospel Choir has a remedy to soothe your soul
Boasting a ridiculous amount of talent, the choir was breath-taking in its soulful renditions of gospel. On each occasion a lead singer would step forward and sing the melody, supported (but by no means to a lesser extent) by the other members who would provide the complementary parts. Singing in a range of different languages seems an impossible task, but the choir takes this as light work, managing to take the breath of the entire room during their whistle-stop tour of the nation. The extent to which music can have an emotional impact on you really is surprising; and I found myself at several moments with goose bumps from the raw passion amplified through the music.
There was a defining moment in the set, however, which saw the choir switch from traditional gospel and folk music to more modern chart hits (presumably to satisfy a Western audience). Though they covered James Brown’s I Feel Good extremely well, I did feel that the choir should have been more stringent in their quota of performing traditional gospel.
Every member of the choir carried a phenomenal talent; be that in singing, dancing or bringing the best out of the instruments on stage. Showcasing each of these on a rotation throughout the songs was a wonderful way of highlighting a wide variety of music and many different aspects of what gospel means in such a uniquely multicultural society like that in Soweto.
Overall, it was a fantastic show and whatever aspect of music they turned their minds to was a triumphant success; I would challenge anyone else to take Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah and cover it with a fresh twist that hasn’t been done at least ten times. If you are looking to be entertained (rather than educated), then the Soweto Gospel Choir has a remedy to soothe your soul.