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25 août 2008


August 25, 2008

GRAMMY AWARD WINNING SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR'S NEW PROJECT: Shanachie releases 'Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre' CD/DVD

On Sept 16 the Soweto Gospel Choir will simultaneously release their new CD/DVD 'Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre.'

It comes just in time for their Oct. 3rd 48-city North American tour kick-off, which will run through the holiday season - a first for the Choir in America.

In the five short years of their existence the Soweto Gospel Choir has achieved an almost unbelievable array of accomplishments: two Grammy Awards, two number one Billboard World Music Chart albums and collaborations either in concert or in the studio with Bono, Robert Plant, Peter Gabriel, and Celine Dion.

They were one of the featured performers at Oprah Winfrey’s New Year’s Eve party in South Africa where they wowed such invited guests as Quincy Jones, Mariah Carey, Patti La Belle and Sidney Poitier.

Not many artists can count as their supporters the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu (an official patron of the Choir) and Nelson Mandela, for whom the choir performed at his original star-studded AIDS awareness 46664 concert and most recently his 90th Birthday concert along with Leona Lewis, Annie Lennox, Will Smith, Joan Baez and others in London. Yet the choir’s greatest achievement of all may be the fact that they have raised over $1,000,000 for their charity, Nkosi’s Haven, which provides care for families victimized by AIDS.

One of the highlights on their crowd-pleasing CD/DVD is the township jive number “Avulekile Amasango” and Bob Marley’s “One Love.”

As Soweto Gospel Choir executive producer/show director, Beverly Bryer notes,'One Love' has been sung and popularized by several African groups. The song is a perfect match for the choir as it contains a special spiritual message that is relevant to the choir and the music we enjoy singing.”

Another highlight is the choir’s interpretation of the spiritual standard “River Jordan,” which they recorded for the first time. Listening to the CD or viewing the DVD offers an experience that is indeed the next best thing to being there.

Soweto Gospel Choir began in late 2002 when South African executive producer Beverly Bryer and noted musical director David Mulovhedzi held auditions in Soweto to form an all-star “super-choir” and was able to create a powerful aggregation made of the best singers from Mulovhedzi’s own Holy Jerusalem Choir, as well as various Soweto churches and even the public. Ultimately a 26-member aggregation of mainly singers in their twenties and teens were formed.

Africa in general (and South Africa in particular) has a long diverse history with Gospel music. When Africans encountered European missionaries and churches, they quickly absorbed their religious music and blended it with local traditional music to come up with unique styles and repertoires of spiritual songs. South Africa has long been noted for powerful singers and a capella vocal traditions of great beauty. In addition, dancing is an integral part of African church worship and so the dancing seen onstage is an authentic representation of African religious experience and not, as some would assume a “show-biz” device.

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