All the way from Soweto, South Africa, The Soil is a three-part SATMA award-winning a cappella group with a mission to warm the hearts of even the frostiest Edinburgh native. The group is slickly styled in tailored shirts and bright flares and lights up the lecture theatre with a set of ten fantastic songs, varied in mood from the more plaintive opening to a joyful, hand-clapping finale.
The Soil consists of one woman, Buhlebendalo Mda (aka Buhle), ably supported by Ntsika Fana Ngxanga (aka Da FanArtistc) and beatboxing whizz, Luphindo Ngxanga (aka Master P). Introducing the group, Da FanArtistc mentions a fourth member, God, who created man using soil – the band exists to carry the message and they are the medium through which The Creator speaks.
All of which sounds a tad heavy. However, The Soil creates music which everyone can relate to. Most songs are written from Master P’s personal experiences and as he appears to be somewhat unlucky in love, we can identify immediately. ‘New Year’s Resolution’, one of the few tracks to be sung entirely in English rather than the Xhosa language, is a curiously uplifting tale of an ex-girlfriend’s determination to break up with Master P over that most difficult of holidays. Another song, which also includes some deliciously funky dancing, is inspired by his desire to marry and the tradition of having to buy your father-in-law a certain number of cows (OK, so the empathy might dwindle a bit here, but stick with it). As well as spawning much of the music, Master P manages to somehow combine constant beatboxing with harmonic basslines, punctuated with bass drum and snare sound effects – no mean feat!
Da FanArtistc keeps the crowd smiling with his warm between-song banter, while the beautiful Buhle lets us know she means business by kicking off her wedges. Other songs requiring some nifty steps include a jolly track about sitting around a bush fire in the Eastern Cape and ‘Lazy’, which is about a town in South Africa where their parents used to drink, dance and have a good time.
By the end I am standing up, dancing and clapping. You don’t have to be religious to be moved by The Soil’s music. The harmonies are undeniably beautiful, the happiness infectious, the talent undeniable. Go and see them!