Soweto Gospel Choir
"Hope: It's Been a Long Time Coming"
June 18, 2021
Co-sponsored by the Black Cultural Center
Resounding with sheer jubilation, three-time Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir brings Hope: It's Been a Long Time Coming, a program celebrating American and South African artists associated with struggles for civil rights and social justice throughout their countries’ complex histories. From South African freedom songs to the music of Aretha Franklin, Harry Belafonte, and Mahalia Jackson, to traditional African gospel and spirituals, Soweto brings audiences to their feet.
Through its earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, brilliant costumes, and infectious spirit, the awe-inspiring 20-member ensemble thrills audiences worldwide with performances that uplift the soul. This unforgettable evening starts with a rousing program of some of the South African freedom songs that inspired the choir’s song, Rainbow Nation, then moves to selections from the United States with beautiful and heartfelt renditions of the music of the civil rights movement, featuring works by legendary artists including Billie Holiday, James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, and the one and only Aretha Franklin.
Hailing from Soweto (South West Township), a town outside of Johannesburg and home of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s democratic movement, Soweto Gospel Choir features a line-up of some of South Africa’s best vocalists. These uplifting performers have shared the stage and collaborated with the biggest names in contemporary music, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, U2, Diana Ross, Peter Gabriel, Chris Martin, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Cliff, Ben Harper, Angélique Kidjo, Robert Plant, Celine Dion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hugh Masekela, and Josh Groban.
Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in 2003 at the end of the apartheid era and during South Africa’s inspiring return to democracy. Taking part in some of the major historical events in the new democratic South Africa, Soweto Gospel Choir is proud to have performed on many occasions for South African President Nelson Mandela, as well as at his state funeral in South Africa and at the subsequent commemorative service at Westminster Abbey in London. The group also performed at the funeral service for the late President’s first wife, Winnie Mandela, and serves as an ambassador for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
This is Soweto Gospel Choir's the first performance at the Moss Arts Center.
This performance is supported in part by a gift from David and Judie Reemsnyder.
This engagement of Soweto Gospel Choir is made possible in part through the ArtsCONNECT program of Mid Atlantic Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.