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Review: Soweto Gospel Choir at The Fantail (open-air) at Gluttony - ADL Fringe

Review by Natalie Low

As explained on their website, the Soweto Gospel Choir was created to celebrate African gospel music. Grammy Award-winning, they travel the world with songs sung in various South African languages, and English, with both original songs and covers. After a joyous opening with everyone coming onstage in song, the choir master introduces the choir to everyone, and explains that even if you may understand what they are singing, you can understand the feeling. And he hits the nail right on the head. Their harmonies are strong from the very beginning. You can feel the joy, and soul, throughout the entire performance.

They switch between songs effortlessly, and give opportunity to each singer to have their shining moment. They also incorporate beautiful choreography in some of the songs, so you’re not just watching choir in a standard group setting, but they are moving about, taking command of the stage.

The large LED backdrop of artwork stays the same throughout, and its strong beautiful artwork is a constant reminder that you’ve been transported to a different space altogether. Their costumes are simple, with them mainly in traditional costumes but in their faster songs, they have several costume changes to fit in with their choreography. Their singers don’t just sing, but they play the drums, and the piano, depending on the song.

Formed in 2002, the Soweto Gospel Choir has been touring non-stop, and they have performed in some of the largest festivals around the world. Their confidence and their ability to perform songs non-stop for an entire hour is remarkable. They also invite the audience to have fun with them, and listen to their stories through them. With some familiar songs like “This Little Light of Mine” and covers from Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, the background vocals are sung in other languages, and seamlessly weaved together.

The finale is a rendition of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen and the whole mood of the venue shifts as you can feel the heart and soul sung, and everyone in the audience joins in. A truly joyous and rapturing experience.

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