Presented by Andrew Kay & Associates
Reviewed 8 March 2017
Energetic, exciting, exhilarating, excellent! The Soweto Gospel Choir is all these things and more. The choir was formed in 2002 and has enjoyed incredible success around the world, winning four Grammy Awards, an Emmy and an Academy Award nomination. Their patron is Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The eight men and eight women in the choir greeted the audience in all 11 South African official languages, of which I could understand only two: Hello in English and Dumela in Setswana – thanks to the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books. The mainly acapella style of the choir allowed the fantastic range of voices to shine, with a variety of percussive backing and an occasional keyboard accompaniment.
But the choir does not just sing, they dance too – and how! Traditional African rhythms are combined with amazing athletic moves: spins, splits, high kicks. Even the traditionally built member of the choir had an extensive repertoire of moves, demonstrated to perfection – and to the audience’s delight – in the James Brown classic I feel good when her hip bump knocked her partner over.
One number involves two duelling Djembe drums –goblet shaped drums – played by one male and one female choir member. They were beating out the rhythm together and then playing an echoing counterpoint to the other drum, typical of the ‘call and response’ style of African music.
A medley of English language songs, including Jesus on the Mainline and When the Saints Come Marching In rounded out the performance before it closed on a moving rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah with the choir receiving a standing ovation and then reprising the song with enthusiastic audience participation.
Tell all your friends about their brilliant performance and get along to the see the Soweto Gospel Choir while you have the opportunity – you’ll regret it if you don’t.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Panama Club at Royal Croquet Club, War Memorial Drive
Season: 9-19 March
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: Full Price: $40.00 Concession: $35.00