Soweto Gospel Choir Visits Center for the Arts

Posted: February 7, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

A 26-member group that performs in eight languages, the Soweto Gospel Choir blends traditional hymns, Western pop and South African harmonies in its signature inspirational, joyful sound.

Traveling the world as ambassadors of hope and goodwill, Soweto Gospel Choir will perform selections from the group’s bestselling CDs, “Voices from Heaven” and “Blessed” (a 2007 GRAMMY nominee for Best Traditional World Album), at Mason’s Center for the Arts on Sunday, Feb. 18, at 4 p.m.

Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a capella stylings and ebullient, charismatic performances sung in many African languages, as well as English, combine dramatically in a Soweto Gospel Choir concert.

South African gospel music has a unique sound all its own, with strong roots springing from traditional music and conveying a powerful spiritual message of strength and survival. A live performance by Soweto Gospel Choir, which was formed in 2002, includes the seamless blending of the ensemble’s varied voices, brightly colored traditional robes and headdresses, enthusiastic movement and simple drumming accompaniment.

The choir, whose varied repertoire ranges from traditional African gospel in songs like the haunting “Mudimo” and the song of liberation, “Nkosi Sikelele,” to American spirituals like “Amazing Grace,” “Paradise Road,” and “Oh Happy Day,” to Otis Redding classics and even soul-inspired reggae by Jimmy Cliff, believes that “music is the universal language,” explains founder David Mulovhedzi.

Their music and strong faith kept spirits alive during the dark days of apartheid in their homeland, because, Mulovhedzi says, “Gospel is the music that heals the broken spirit.”

In addition to their work for several South African AIDS charities, the choir spends most of its time on the road, spreading its universal message of faith, hope and love through its incomparable vocal power. The choir has performed for Nelson Mandela as part of his 80th birthday celebrations in 2005 and was featured as part of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 50th wedding anniversary celebrations.

An artistic discussion, free to ticket holders, will be held at 3:15 p.m. on the hall’s Grand Tier.

Tickets are $38, $30 and $19; tickets for children 12 and under are half price. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.tickets.com.

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