Soweto Gospel Choir

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.

Reviews by Matthew Sedman

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Performances

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The Blurb

Two-time Grammy award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir brings together South Africa’s greatest singers, performing gospel and their unique interpretations of international classics in eight of South Africa’s official languages. With soaring harmonies and that distinct South African sound, this performance is a truly extraordinary musical experience. In well over 1,000 live performances, Soweto Gospel Choir has brought joy into the lives of audiences all around the world and performed for and celebrated with world leaders, including Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Presidents Obama and Clinton as well as the British Royal Family.

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