The Soweto Gospel Choir brings their new, award winning show, Blessed, to Adelaide. It is a two-hour gospel extravaganza, African style. By way of introduction, the twenty plus members of the choir dramatically launch into song before the lights are fully up. This bursting energy continues until the last moments of the concert, with singers, dancers and musicians showcasing their style with backing from the choir. Voices ring out in Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, English and Afrikaans, singing songs from different faiths and nations, singing of the past, of hope, politics, heartache, joy and celebration.
The song list includes the familiar sounds of Amazing Grace and The Lion Sleeps Tonight as well as unfamiliar songs with body percussion, whistling and catcalls. At the end of the concert, before the encore, the audience is asked to stand for the South African National Anthem. The South African contingent in the audience sings whole-heartedly with the choir, first in Xhosa, then Afrikaans and concludes in English.
Aside from the details of the song list, there were well-paced variations in vocal arrangements with energetic call and response, solos, duos, quartets and the whole choir singing rich harmonies accompanied at times by physical rhythms, djembe or the four-piece band. Dance generates dynamic stage pictures along with apt costuming showing a strong African essence through bright colours and pattern motifs inspired by traditional art, beading and stylised zebra and leopard prints.
The overall effect of the performance is that of an emotional roller coaster ride; soaring sounds raise goosebumps with a rush of sheer elation as well as aching, sonorous sounds bringing a warm contemplative stillness. Songs reflect the past, joyousness in the moment and hope for the future and endowers the performers with strength and assuredness of self. Pride, humour and playful cheekiness emanates through the song and dance, providing resilience for the tough times and celebration for the good times. The performance shows choir members, without exception, joyously throwing energy - throwing their voices, music and dance with euphoric abandon. Sounds of the Soweto Gospel Choir send the spirits soaring.
Soweto Gospel Choir
Venue: Festival Theatre
Dates: 20 & 21 March
Tickets: $45.00 - $60.00
Bookings: BASS 131 246 or www.bass.net.au
Further information: www.adelaidefestivalcentre.com.au