345

Soweto Gospel Choir: Blessed

Woodrow Wilkins By

Sign in to view read count
Soweto Gospel Choir: Blessed In the spirited tradition of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, these young singers and musicians are spreading their love of God and life from their South African base and sharing it with people around the world. The Soweto Gospel Choir began a two-and-a-half-month/44-city US tour immediately after the January 24 release of Blessed, the group's second recording.

The 26-member choir won over audiences with its January 2005 release, Voices from Heaven. The album hit No. 1 on the Billboard World Music charts. The choir earned the 2004 American Gospel Music Award for Best Choir and the 2004 Gospel Music Award for Best International Choir. In November 2005, the group performed with Diana Ross and Christina Aguilera as part of the "Unite the Stars concert to benefit Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund and the United Against Hunger charities.

Blessed definitely provides food for those who are hungry for good gospel music. Like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the choir exhibits exceptional vocal harmony, delivering songs in six of South Africa's eleven official languages, including English. "Joko Yahao, a traditional song featuring Sibongile Makgathe as soloist, is one of the more charming tracks, aided by a more-than-competent rhythm section. Guitarist Joshua Mcineka offers a delightful intro and solo on "Njalo, another traditional song, which features Bheki Nene as lead vocalist. The choir pays tribute to Ladysmith Black Mambazo with "Lelilungo Ngelakho, which was written by Ladysmith's Joseph Shabalala.

"Oh Happy Day, perhaps the most popular gospel recording to make pop and soul radio playlists, is covered in exceptional fashion by the choir. With solos by Vincent Jiyane and Makgathe, aided by Lucas Bok's funk-inspired bass line and Mpupile Mathibe's wailing alto sax, this track does honor to the original while adding a personal touch. Bok, who doubles as vocalist, and Vusumuzi Madondo take lead on the spirited "Swing Down, which is sung mostly a cappella. Thembisa Khuzwayo and Lindo Makhathini sing lead on "Mbube, which is known internationally as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight. This is less a pop tune and more a spiritual/folk piece as the choir sings a cappella, backed only by a percussionist.

This eighteen-track disc provides just under an hour's worth of music. At times somber, at other times vivacious, the Soweto Gospel Choir scores another hit with Blessed. Comprised mostly of singers and musicians in their twenties, the ensemble is poised to charm and inspire audiences for many years to come. With Blessed, it's well on its way.


Track Listing: Shewane; Asimbonanga/Biko; Joko Yahao; A Place in Heaven; Njalo; I Bid You Goodnight; Lelilungelo Ngelakho; Oh Happy Day; Noyana; Masigiye

Personnel: Soloists: Mulalo Mulovhedzi, Lindo Makhathini, Lehakwe Tlali, Sibongile Makgathe, Noluthando Mgqunge, Bheki Nene, Vincent Jiyane, Lunigisani Mhlongo, Thembisa Khuzwayo, Sipokazi Luzipo, Nkosinathi Hadebe, Vusumzi Madondo, Lucas Bok, Bongumusa Mabaso; Musicians: Lucas Bok: bass; Joshua Mcineka: guitar; Mandla Modawu: drums; Vusimuzi Shabalala: keyboards; Sipho Ngcamu: percussion; Bongumusa Mabaso: percussion; Mpupile Mathibe: saxophone.

Title: Blessed | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Shanachie Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Magnetic CD/LP/Track Review Magnetic
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 27, 2017
Read A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard
by Mark E. Gallo
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Someone Else CD/LP/Track Review Someone Else
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 27, 2017
Read Falling Forward CD/LP/Track Review Falling Forward
by James Nadal
Published: July 27, 2017
Read I Know Who I Am CD/LP/Track Review I Know Who I Am
by James Nadal
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Harmonies" CD/LP/Track Review Harmonies
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder" CD/LP/Track Review Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "On Hollywood Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: December 6, 2016
Read "Taylor Street" CD/LP/Track Review Taylor Street
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Algorithmic Society" CD/LP/Track Review Algorithmic Society
by Jim Trageser
Published: October 23, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.