February 16, 2018
Multiple Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir brings South Africa’s greatest vocalists together.
The choir will perform songs in a number of South Africa’s official languages, returning after their sell-out season in Adelaide last year.
Here, Shimmy Jiyane, spokesperson for Soweto, answers some questions about the performance they’ll be bringing to the Fringe.
The whole idea behind the choir is to celebrate the power of African Gospel Music. What makes it so great?
What makes it so great is that it unites people and brings peace to the continent and the world with its rhythm, its strong raw voices and the power of the drum.
How and when did you get into it?
The choir started in 2002 in downtown Johannesburg when the late David Mulovhezi met with Andrew Kay and Beverly Breyer at the Market Theater to watch a show. When they got out of the show they were so moved and inspired with what they had seen regarding the South African talent they started talking about having a choir called Soweto Gospel Choir. We had auditions for the choir and the people came in numbers to try their luck. The faces of a number of choir members that you see now are many of the ones from those auditions.. The choir was also formed to celebrate the different cultures that we have in South Africa and the music that comes with these cultures. South Africa has 11 official languages and the choir sings in six of them.
What are you most excited about in regards to performing in Adelaide for Fringe?
First of all the people of Adelaide for their love and support they show to every artist that comes to the Fringe. The atmosphere is always electrifying and the love they showed to the choir last year was amazing.
Why do you think Adelaide Fringe is a good place for this performance?
Because it allows artists from all over the world to come and share their stories and art at the festival which is great because you get to meet and see other artists’ work.
Speaking of the performance, it’s a dedication to Nelson Mandela, who was from Soweto! How will you be honouring him?
We will be honouring the icon with song and dance as we take people back to 1976. We will be showing people what Nelson Mandela has left in our hearts – which is to love, be responsible and love our country.
You choreographed this choir for many years. What goes into choreographing a gospel choir?
Oh yes it’s always good choreographing the choir because our songs have lots of stories that they tell. So I always have to come up with something that relates to what we are singing about. And most importantly, we also use our choreography to engage with our audience.
Why do you think choreography is effective in gospel singing?
It is effective because gospel music is all about spreading the good news and positive messages. When we sing and dance it shows the joy that comes within the music.
What are you hoping that your Adelaide audience members leave your show thinking and feeling?
We hope that every time they come to our show they become happy and calmed because the message we always spread around the world is for joy, peace and happiness.
Soweto Gospel Choir play The Flamingo at Gluttony from 16 February-18 March.