Soaring Soweto songs

Soweto Gospel Choir

Brisbane Powerhouse, Powerhouse Theatre

August 27

The Soweto Gospel Choir is one of the world’s greatest vocal ensembles and from the moment its show opens with traditional gospel songs sung in Zulu and Sotho as thanks to god, creator of all things, it is obvious to audience members that a standing ovation will surely be ensuing at the end of the evening.

The double Grammy-winning choir from the South Africa’s South Western Townships (an acronym of which forms its name) conveys an infectious energy and exuberance in its every number in its combination of traditional African songs handed down through generations with some western musical numbers such as ‘Have a Little Faith’. And although there are some standout soloists, everyone is given chance to shine, to the ultimate benefit of the collective group.

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This is a show of much colour and movement, guaranteed to generate a smile from even the most cynical of audience goers. The costumes of contrasting colours serve as a vivid visual spectacle in compliment to the musical magic and playful humour that ensures the evening paces along. When the group bang back after intermission with a standout ‘Naha ya Africa’ from the rhythm section, everyone is already well and truly feeling good long before the program progresses to the James Brown classic.

From this upbeat funk to the lyrical beauty of a gospel ‘Hallelujah’ as part of the show’s closing spiritual medley, the choir’s exotic harmonies are nothing short of divine. And once encored by the joyous ‘Oh Happy Day’ hymn, audience members are, as anticipated, jumping to their feet for a well-deserved standing ovation, in realisation that they have shared in a truly memorable musical experience.

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