This fall, the three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir returns to Victoria as one of two Canadian stops on its North American tour. Presented by Caravan World Rhythms, the group will perform their new concert “HOPE: It’s Been a Long Time Coming” at 7:30 pm on Sunday, November 13 at the Royal Theatre (805 Broughton Street).
The concert draws from music that inspired and supported South Africa’s freedom movement and the American civil rights movement. This timely celebration of human resilience will uplift weary audiences after recent years of increasing political and social struggle around the world.
The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in 2003 in Soweto (South Western Townships), a township outside of Johannesburg and the home of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s democratic movement. The choir came together just as South Africa was coming out of apartheid. Since then, they have performed at some of the country’s biggest events, such as the first of the 46664 AIDS benefit concerts and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, including singing for leaders like Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. With this history woven tightly into the choir’s fabric, “HOPE: It’s Been a Long Time Coming” commemorates South Africa’s freedom movement and the American civil rights movement through music that inspired and strengthened these events. Audiences will hear South African struggle songs and traditional music, alongside familiar tunes like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”
The 24-piece Soweto Gospel Choir is composed of some of South Africa’s best vocalists. They have long been renowned for their energizing concerts across the globe and have shared the stage and collaborated with some of the biggest names in contemporary music, including U2, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Josh Groban. They perform a range of African gospel, freedom songs and international classics, through heartfelt renditions that are at once both distinct and familiar. Their arrangements showcase powerful solos and exuberant harmonies, supported by percussion, clapping and traditional South African dancing.
“We are elated to finally bring the Soweto Gospel Choir back to Vancouver Island after their last performance here more than a decade ago,” says Robert Benaroya, Caravan World Rhythms’ managing artistic director. “Their music is truly uplifting and vibrant, and exactly what we need after the past few years of global social, environmental and economic trials. Audiences will leave with a greater sense of joy and hope because of the power of the choir’s music.”
For more information, visit caravanbc.com/events/soweto-gospel-choir-victoria-show. Tickets start at $29.
Caravan World Rhythms, founded in 2000, is a BC-based non-profit cultural organization that presents global music and dance events featuring unique and high-quality artists from around the world. Caravan has presented many high-profile world music and dance groups over the years, such as Ravi Shankar, Salif Keita, Tinariwen, Goran Bregovic, Les Percussions de Guinea, Nuevo Ballet Flamenco de España, Dakhabrakha and many more.