By Jeanti St Clair
ABC North Coast NSW
June 24, 2011
Isn’t it great to see a live music show which shakes our mellow North Coast audiences out of their seats? Over the last week, I’ve lucky enough to be at two gigs which blew the audience away. And such different shows they were.
Last Friday, I found myself at Lismore City Hall to see the Soweto Gospel Choir’s African Grace show and then on Saturday, I headed across to Mullumbimby to hear the final performance of A Storm in A Teacup, a very special collaboration between a bunch of terrific Australian alt-folk and indie music performers – but more on that shortly.
I don’t think I have ever seen the Lismore City Hall so packed to the gills as it was last Friday.
Busloads of people poured in to see this Grammy Award-winning choir who hail from the sprawling black South Western Townships on the outskirts of Johannesburg in South Africa. The Soweto Gospel Choir has been on a 35-town tour around Australia since May and good on them for including many regional towns on their list.
The night was partly a fundraiser for the Choir’s own foundation Nkosi’s Haven Vukani which helps AIDS orphans through organisations that receive little or no funding. So far, the choir has raised more than R 4million (rand) for their foundation.
Some 26 singers, dancers and drummers presented an open-hearted and energetic mix of traditional African hymns drawn from churches across the Soweto townships and gospel songs from the American songbook. Thrown in were a few contemporary hits including Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and the late South African pop singer, Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata.
Singing in several languages including Zulu, Xhosa and English, the choral singers and soloists beamed and danced and laughed and joked. Their costumes, vibrantly coloured and patterned, were as much a part of the show as their songs and dances. It would be unfair to name any standout voices and performers. All hearts in together, here. Oh Happy Day provided the crowd with a great singalong moment and is probably a good indicator of the mood of the audience.