The spectacular SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR returns to North America in 2018 with Songs of the Free, a very special program celebrating the centenary of the birth of the father of their rainbow Nation, Nelson Mandela.”Songs of the Free” will include South African classics as well as freedom songs and gospel music much loved by Mandela for whom the Soweto Gospel Choir had the privilege of performing in front of on multiple times during his life.
“Nothing can really prepare you for the riot of exuberance and depth of emotion.” – The Scotsmen
Direct from South Africa, SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR is an awe-inspiring 20 member ensemble that thrills audiences worldwide with their stunning blend of African gospel music, spirituals and American popular music. Earthy rhythms and rich harmonies sung in 6 of South Africa’s 11 ocial languages are combined for a moving performance which uplifts the soul through the music & dance of South Africa.
“Sheer jubilation … earthy and unrestrained … The Rhythm of Life” – Herald Sun
“…Hailing from the township that was at the heart of South Africa’s long struggle against apartheid, this choir has the spirit of gospel deep in its blood-and it shows.” – Washington Post
ARTIST WEBSITE: www.sowetogospelchoir.com
CONCERT PROGRAM 2018
UMANDELA UTHI AYAIHLOME
WADE IN THE WATER/BAWO THIXO SOMANDLA
I FEEL GOOD
Milton Ndlakuse Musical Director
Vincent Jiyane Choir Master
Mulalo Mulovhedzi General Manager
Mary Mulovhedzi Administrator
Toni Rudov – Company Manger
Maija Putans – Stage Manager
Andrew Ride – Touring Lighting Designer/Operator
Leon June JR – Touring Audio Designer/Operator
International Producer: Andrew Kay
Associate Producers: Margot Teele & Toni Rudov
2002 – 2006:
- Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in November, 2002
- In December, 2002 their first album “Voices of Heaven” was recorded and went on to reach the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s World Music Chart within 3 weeks of its release in the US
- In 2003 the choir won its first award, a Helpmann Award, Australia’s prestigious Performing Arts Award, for “Best Contemporary Music Concert”
- This success was followed when they won a 2003 American Gospel Music Award for “Best Choir”
- In the same year, they won an American Gospel Music Award for “Best International Choir”
- They performed for President Bill Clinton at a corporate function in Little Rock, Arkansas
- In October 2006, the choir performed as invited guests for their Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 75thBirthday Celebrations, in front of an illustrious audience which included former President Nelson Mandela, Mrs Zanele Mbeki, Tokyo Sexwale, Samuel L Jackson, Alfre Woodard and Carlos Santana
- They featured on a guest appearance with Diana Ross, Deborah Cox and Danny K for the “Unite of the Stars” Gala Banquet in South Africa in November 2006
- They were invited guests on NBC’s “Today Show” as well as on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”
- The choir have also made a guest appearance on ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’
- In December 2006 they performed at Sun City, South Africa, for Oprah Winfrey and 200 of her V.I.P. guests, including Mariah Carey, Mary J Blige, Tina Turner, Patti Labelle, Sydney Poitier and Quincy Jones
2007 – 2008:
- On 11 February 2007, Soweto Gospel Choir received its greatest accolade, a Grammy Award for their second CD “Blessed”, in the category “Best Traditional World Music”
- At the same time, they were nominated for the 26th International Reggae and World Music Awards, held at the Apollo Theatre, Harlem, on 5 May, in the category “Contribution to World Music”, alongside Jimmy Cliff, Salif Keita, Youssou N’Dour and Ziggy Marley
- In May 2007, the choir won a SAMA Award (South African Music Association Award) in the Category “Best Live Performance DVD”
- In June 2007 Soweto Gospel Choir was the support act for the Red Hot Chilli Peppers at their concerts in Germany
- To add to their string of national and international awards, in November 2007 Soweto Gospel Choir won a Metro FM Music Award for Best Gospel Album for “African Spirit”, based on nominations submitted by the radio station’s listeners, and the public
- In February 2008, the choir was awarded a second Grammy Award for their third album “African Spirit”, in the “Best Traditional World Music” category
- Also in February 2008, the choir was honoured with the PanSALB Award for Multilingualism and Nation Building, for “Album of the Decade”
- They performed with Celine Dion during her “Taking Chances” tour of South Africa
- The choir has had the honour of performing with gospel legends Bebe Winans and Kirk Franklin
- While in New Orleans, they recorded a track with rock legend Robert Plant, which was included on a Fats Domino tribute album, with proceeds going to the victims of Hurricane Katrina
- Their 46664 London performance of “Weeping”, with Josh Groban and Vusi Mahlasela, is featured on Josh’s latest album “Collection”
- The choir has toured the world extensively, performing at prestigious venues like Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, the Nelson Mandela Theatre and Royal Festival Hall in London
. They have performed at high profile festivals such as the Edinburgh Festival, the Adelaide Festival, the Hong Kong Festival, and the London Festival, always to huge acclaim
- Soweto Gospel Choir received its third Grammy nomination in December 2008, this time in the category Best Contemporary World Music, for their album, “Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre”
- The song “Down To Earth” from the blockbuster Wall-E movie, their collaboration with Peter Gabriel, won a Grammy in the Best Movie Song category
- In February 2009, the choir became the first South African artist to perform at the Academy Awards, when they sang “Down To Earth”, the Gabriel/Newman Oscar-nominated song, with John Legend
2009 – 2010:
- In March 2009, they were nominated for three SAMAs (South African Music Awards), for their cd and dvd, “Live At the Nelson Mandela Theatre”, winning the Award for “Best Duo or Group”
- In May 2009, the choir was invited to perform at the Inauguration of South Africa’s new President
- In November, members of Soweto Gospel Choir were flown to Los Angeles to take part in a major Pepsi advertising campaign, alongside Akon and Keri Hilson
- The choir was one of three featured African artists for the FIFA World Cup Draw held in Cape Town in December 2009
- In April 2010, Soweto Gospel Choir was honoured with the inaugural International Achievement Award, at the South African Music Awards held at Sun City.
- Also in April, the choir was invited to perform at the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 World Trade Expo, held in Shanghai, as the African representative.
- The choir collaborated with U2, as the featured South African artist, on the songs “Streets Have No Name”, “Magnificent” and “Boots” for ESPN’s promotional campaign for the 2010 Football World Cup. Excitingly, the campaign paid dividends, as along with ESPN and U2, Soweto Gospel Choir received a Sports Emmy Award as winners of the Outstanding Music Composition/Direction/Lyrics category on 2 May 2011.
- They can then add an Emmy to their two Grammys, three ‘associated ‘Grammys, three SAMAS and one Oscar nomination – an amazing achievement
- The choir has also been featured in several prestigious magazines and books including in Time magazine and in Andrew Zuckerman’s “Music”, alongside such music heavyweights as Russell Simmons, Herbie Hancock, Ozzy Osborne, John Legend and Mark Knopfler
- They performed at the FIFA World Cup Kick-Off Concert in Soweto, the night before the the opening of the World Cup in June, with a international and African line-up including the Black-Eyed Peas, Shakira, Angelique Kidjo and John Legend.
- In December 2010, Soweto Gospel Choir received its fourth Grammy nomination, in the Best Traditional World Music category, for its album “Grace”. The choir was featured alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the song “Baba Yetu” and on the album “Calling All Dawns”, both of which won Grammys in February 2011
2011 – 2012:
- From May – July 2011, members of the choir toured Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, to rave reviews, while others performed in Guadeloupe , French Caribbean
- In July 2011, eighteen choir members performed six concerts in Maastricht, Holland, with top selling classical violinist, Andre Rieu. They joined the Harlem Gospel Choir on stage as a first time collaboration between these world famous choirs.
- Soweto Gospel Choir joined Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his guests for his 80th birthday celebrations, held in Cape Town in October 2011. They performed at the launch of his new book, and backed Bono on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, as a surprise for the Arch. They also sang with other artists at both the cathedral service and the private luncheon for their patron. Bono described them as “brilliant”!
- They performed with leading South African artists at the ANC Centenary Celebrations in Bloemfontein on 8 January 2012.
- In June 2012, Soweto Gospel Choir was invited by South African sensation Zahara, to perform with her and special guest Leroy Bell as part of two sold out concerts that were filmed for her forthcoming dvd.
- Other artists the choir performed with in South Africa during 2012, as their special guests, were Andre Rieu and Johnny Clegg
- In December, Soweto Gospel Choir was nominated for its second Kora (All Africa) Award
2013 – 2014:
- In March 2013, the choir’s fifth album “ Soweto Gospel Choir & Friends – Divine Decade” was released as a celebration of the choir’s 10th Anniversary. They were joined on the album by several guest artists including top local icons Zahara, The Soil, HHP, Elvis Blue, Corlea, Yvonne Chaka Chaka with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Johnny Clegg, as well as international artists Joepraize from Nigeria, Eric Wainaina from Kenya, Paul Ruske from New Zealand, Robert Plant and U2.
- Also in March, the choir returned to Australia and New Zealand to perform at WOMAD in front of many thousands of people, culminating in a sold out concert at the Sydney Opera House
- In May 2013, Soweto Gospel Choir was nominated for a SAMA in the Best Collaboration category for their collaboration with Zahara on the song “Bambelele”
- Later that month, the choir travelled to Addis Ababa to perform at the African Union’s 50th Celebrations, with other guest artists Papa Wemba, Salif Keita and Judith Sephuma.
- In July, they performed for the first time at the Montreal Jazz Festival to rave audience responses and reviews.
- In October 2013, Soweto Gospel Choir was nominated for a Crown Gospel Award in the category “Best gospel group”.
- In November, while on tour in France, the choir performed for Princess Monaco of Monte Carlo, and received a personal congratulations from her
- In December 2013, Soweto Gospel Choir teamed with Woolworths for a Youtube video tribute to Nelson Mandela, as part of a flash mob event, with the song “Asimbonanga”. The clip went viral and received over 3 million hits in its first week of release. To date, the clip has received over 5 million hits and the choir’s Youtube version of “Amazing Grace has received over 9 million hits
- On 13 February 2014, the choir performed with President Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman at the Nelson Mandela Tribute event in New York, as a fundraiser for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
- Soweto Gospel Choir was invited to perform at the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey on 3 March. This was an historic occasion and the service was attended by such prominent people as Archbishop Tutu, Prime Minister David Cameron, Prince Harry, The Lord Mayor of London, the Mandela family and many more.
- In April 2014, the choir was nominated for its sixth South African Music Award (SAMA) in the category “Best Contemporary Faith” album. They performed at the SAMAs with Rebecca Malope and Judith Sephuma
- In September 2014, members of the choir performed, with the London African Gospel Choir, in front of 13,000 people at a corporate event at the O2 arena in London.
- In December 2014, the choir ended an exciting year by performing at the arrival home welcome for the newly crowned Miss World, South Africa’s Rolene Strauss
2015 – 2016:
- The choir started off 2015 with a performance at the Glo-CAF Awards in Lagos, Nigeria, on 8 January. These are Africa’s premier awards and the choir collaborated with top artists from the continent, including Hugh Masekela, with the event being broadcast to millions around the world
- In April, Soweto Gospel Choir male members recorded with this year’s Grammy Award winning flautist, Wouter Kellerman for an amazing rendition of Vivaldi’s “Winter”
- In July, they collaborated with Peter Gabriel for a UN Global Goals media campaign and as a track on Peter’s forthcoming album
- In September, the choir was honoured to perform for and with Pharrell Williams when he toured South Africa as an Ambassador for Woolworths “Are You With Us” social development campaign
- In December, choir members were invited to sing for Prince Harry and other distinguished guests including Graca Machel, Ahmed Kathrada and the US Ambassador at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, for an event to honour Madiba and his legacy, during the Prince’s visit to South Africa
- In April 2016, SGC performed for Ambassador Andrew Young and the Mayor of Atlanta at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, to honour the Ambassador’s contribution to the ending of the apartheid era
- In May, the choir won the award for “Best Gospel Group” at the Inaugural Tower Music Africa Gospel Awards
- In July, the choir was featured as a special guest for Johnny Clegg concerts at Montecasino, performing with Johnny and artists Ross Learmonth, Francois Van Coke and Sipho Mabuse
- In the same month, members were invited to honour racing icon Gugu Zulu at his Memorial Service held at Kyalami Race Track
- In October, the choir performed as the opening act with Nigerian hit maker Korede Bello, as well as with African superstar Wizkid at the 2016 MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMAs)
- In November, one group performed as a special guest artist at the AFRIMA 2016 (All Africa Music Awards) in Lagos, while the other group performed at the EU 2016 World Forum for Democracy Opening Ceremony in Strasbourg.
- Soweto Gospel Choir’s recording of “Amazing Grace” was included on the critically acclaimed South African movie “Beyond the River’, released in April 2017.
- The choir performed as a special guest on Johnny Clegg’s 2017 Farewell Tour for 11 concerts during July, August and November alongside other artists who have been part of Johnny’s 30 year career. They also took part in a surprise private tribute honouring this much lauded music icon
- In November 2017, they were invited to collaborate with the final five contestants of SA Idols 13. The response to the choir’s performance was so great that they were invited for a return performance with the two finalists at the Carnival City finale.
- In January, Soweto Gospel Choir welcomed home Miss Universe at O R Tambo airport
- In the same month, the choir received a nomination for the Ubuntu Arts and Cultural Diplomacy Award (Youth) alongside celebrity chef Siba Mtongana and fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo. This award, a DIRCO initiative, is for an individual or organisation that has promoted a positive image of South Africa globally. Nominees in the Veterans Award category were Johnny Clegg, John Kani and Ladysmith Black Mambazo
- On 11th April, Soweto Gospel Choir were honoured to sing at the Memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at the FNB Stadium. The choir has been one of the Mandela famiy’s chosen artists since their formation and this was a very sad but uplifting tribute for them to be part of, honouring the life of this much-loved struggle icon
- At the end of April, a totally different experience for the choir when they collaborated with three time Grammy Award winner Chance The Rapper at his 15,000 sell-out concert at the Dome. A very unexpected partnership resulting in over 1,000 rave reviews on social media.
- May 2018 the Choir recorded a new album featuring Struggle songs.