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To experience the sound, mood and energy of South Africa from the comfort of your own home, look no further than the music of the Soweto Gospel Choir. The 26-member singing group has won two Grammys and received nominations at the Emmys and the Oscars. The team is currently performing across North America to promote their new CD, "African Grace".
Soweto Gospel Choir [File photo]
Soweto Gospel Choir was founded in 2002, aiming to take the sound of South Africa around the world. Auditions were held to find the best voices in the country. There are 11 official languages in South Africa, and the choir sings in six of them. Since the groups formation its received no end of high-profile awards.
Sipokai Nxumalo, founding member of Soweto Gospel Choir, said, "When we won the Grammys we felt like - it was a sign that we were on the right track, that what we're doing is right, it is touching souls, it is changing lives. So the passion and the simplicity is working, so we stuck to that and won the second one again. And when we got back to South Africa the whole nation was so proud."
The group has not forgotten where their fame and fortune came from, and are using it as a way to give back to their community. Their charitable foundation gives money to various AIDS foundations in South Africa.
Sipokai Nxumalo said, "We collect donations after each performance and that money works wonders in the little children's lives. It's like every time we come back from the tour, you find them tearing up, they can't wait for us to come back, it's like we're Father Christmas. We provide blankets, we provide medicine, books."
For the members of the choir, it's about more than just singing. It's about changing people's lives through music.
Sipokai Nxumalo said, "People know South Africa for many things, people know South Africa for the Apartheid era, for the rough and the bad times we went through. But Soweto Gospel Choir is a reflection of where South Africa is today, the beauty, the diversity of the cultures, of the faiths, of the music you know, the vibe, the love, the forgiveness that's in our country."
Bringing music into people's hearts, the Soweto Gospel Choir seems to have found an ideal way of bring their country's music to the world. The team is scheduled to perform in North America until April.