Since Soweto Gospel Choir's introduction to American audiences three years ago, the instantly inviting, heart-warming and awe-inspiring choir has amassed a growing international fan-base, performed to sold out audiences throughout the world, sung alongside such icons as Bono, Peter Gabriel, Diana Ross and Jimmy Cliff, and has been heralded as the most exciting group to emerge in world music in years. 2006 was a banner year for Soweto Gospel Choir, who has made fans of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (the choir's patron). The electrifying choir performed a blockbuster 46-city US tour and released their critically acclaimed sophomore release Blessed. With the release of African Spirit (the Choir's third CD for Shanachie), the heartfelt, exuberant voices of Soweto Gospel Choir continue to spread their much-needed messages of love, joy and hope to audiences throughout the world regardless of their color, language or faith.
On January 30, 2007 Shanachie Entertainment will release, African Spirit, a warm and exotic collection of moving traditional South African spiritual music, South African pop, American gospel and popular inspirational songs from around the world. The choir's honey toned harmonies, rich interwoven vocal textures and driving rhythmic patterns are instantly arresting and pleasing.
Some of the highlights on African Spirit include "Avulekile Amasango (The Doors of Heaven are Wide Open)/One Love." The song, which is a classic township jive with a rollicking band, segue's into Bob Marley's "One Love" and has generated tremendous response at the Choir's live concerts. Soweto Gospel Choir's Executive Producer/Show Director, Beverly Bryer, shares, "'One Love' has been sung and popularized by several African groups. The song is a perfect match for the choir as it contains a special spiritual message that is relevant to the choir and the music we enjoy singing about." Another standout is "Izwi Lahlab'Inhlziyo Yami" (The World of God Touched My Heart) which features five powerful lead vocalists who also do the harmonizing heard in the song. Of special note is Soweto Gospel Choir's soulful and moving version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Remember You" and their joyous version of "By The Rivers Of Babylon," which was first popularized by legendary reggae group The Melodians in The Harder They Come film soundtrack. The Choir also performs Jimmy Cliff's "Sitting In Limbo," from the same soundtrack, in conjunction with the inspirational hymn "This Little Light Of Mine," which functions as an answer to the pensive questions posed in "Sitting In Limbo." The choir was actually inspired to record "Sitting In Limbo" after hearing the Neville Brothers sing it on their recording Fiyo On The Bayou.
Music and social mission come together on African Spirit with the song "One," performed by U2's Bono to benefit AIDS-Awareness campaigns. Included here is a version recorded at the star-studded 46664 concert in South Africa which was part of Nelson Mandela's Aids Awareness Campaign. The Choir serves as an Ambassador for 46664, which campaigns for those affected by the Aids pandemic in South Africa. On Bono's hit "One," he delivers a typically strong lead vocal as the Choir backs him with their thundering African chorus. Throughout African Spirit, the choir showcases why they have emerged as one of the most promising, uplifting and exciting new voices on the global music scene. It is no wonder why The Boston Globe called Soweto Gospel Choir's music "soulful profoundly moving music" and The Atlanta Journal Constitution declared, "Hearing the full choir harmonize sounds less like a couple of dozen people singing together and more like a pipe organ roaring to life."
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