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October 16, 2008

Soweto Gospel Choir 'touches the soul'

Post Crescent (WI):

However far the two-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir travels, the South African singers never forget where they came from. "We are young South Africans that have been given a great opportunity," said Sipokazi Luzipo, the show's narrator and one of the touring choir's 26 or so musicians, most of whom started singing young in their churches and neighborhoods. "It's about showing the beauty that has come out of South Africa. What we do is also to our communities' benefit."

The choir's current U.S. and Canadian tour, "African Spirit," which stops Oct. 23 in Appleton, showcases traditional African gospel, Western gospel and contemporary songs of the type that choir members have performed for disadvantaged and ill children at orphanages throughout their homeland.

At some point during the concert at the downtown Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, the choir will provide an opportunity for audience members to donate funds to its charitable foundation, Nkosi's Haven Vukani. The foundation has raised about $1.05 million to help alleviate poverty for South African children, and choir members have personally distributed supplies at orphanages.

"We just form a line, and we pass the food from one choir member to another," said Luzipo, 24, who joined the choir when it formed in 2002. "Bags of rice, vegetables. The kids will eat; the choir will sing for them. We just try and reach out to all of them. The ones who don't go to school need blankets, but the ones who do go to school need books. All of them need food. That's where we come in as a group."

Making and listening to music in African cultures is a daily activity through which people worship, pass along oral histories, mourn and celebrate, said Dane Richeson, a professor of music and the director of percussion studies at Lawrence University in Appleton. The African percussion ensemble he directs, called Kinkaviwo, will demonstrate Ghanaian styles of drumming, dance and song during a pre-concert presentation.

"A lot of the music is highly complex, rhythmic composition, all passed down from generation to generation," Richeson said. "There's something very soulful and powerful in the music. It's something I can't imagine (the African people) ever going a day without." Read more

Posted by acapnews at October 16, 2008 9:48 PM

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