Friday, May 9, 2008

Soweto Gospel Choir

Soweto Gospel Choir 8/5/2008

Having Lived in South Africa for some years we are quite used to their love of Gospel Choirs over there. In fact it seems that almost every large church has its own large choir and they even have their own competitions and such that they compete in as well as performing at various churches and other functions. So gospel Choirs have a long and colourful history in South Africa.

One Choir currently touring the world and making it big time is the Soweto Gospel Choir, (currently back in Australia). Unlike most other choirs the SGC only has a very short history and only came into existence to help out a small group of Australian Music entrepreneurs back in 2002.

It appears this group of businessmen had booked a Welsh Choir to tour Australia and had already booked and paid deposits on 23 venues when the Welsh welshed on their agreement.

At that point one of the partners remembered his visit to South Africa 7 months earlier trying to book another musical to tour Oz, and how he had met the Choir Director from the Holy Jerusalem church (which was so small it operated out of his garage. Very common for many churches to start that way over there.) And remembered how good they had been and so a desperate plan was launched, and the Australian guy rang the South African guy and asked him to put a choir together to tour both Australia and New Zealand within 3 months.

A crazy thing to do, but within a month the South African Choir leader had auditioned and chosen 32 singers (from a variety of Churches) to be known as the Soweto Gospel Choir. Before the choir had even their first rehearsal, tickets had gone on sale in Australia and in the second month, an Album of songs was recorded to go on sale with the tour. And the final month later, they were on a plane to Australia and performed sell out shows at the Sydney Opera House and went on to world success and are now adored by people from Celine Dion, to Red Hot Chili Peppers and of course Nelson Mandela.

Now it is easy to see a lot of reasons why this tour should not have worked, but it did out of a mix of desperation, determination and commitment. So the Soweto Gospel Choir was born unexpectedly and even prematurely but because of care and commitment, it has not only survived but thrived and flourishes still. Is there something in your life that you would like to do but don’t quite have the commitment for, to even try and bring it into being. The Soweto Choir had a lot against it just in getting formed from 32 strangers in a few months for a long tour to a country not accustomed at all to South African Gospel singers.

Yes there was a lot running against it but it worked and still works because people both believed in it and were committed to seeing it succeed, even if some of the commitment was more desperation than total belief.

No one then expected this to grow like it did, just to plug as best they could a gaping hole, and yet it did succeed. Why because they tried and committed themselves to it.

What about you? Is there something you need to both commit to and try? Well is there?

****Just in case you are thinking that “Soweto” is a typical South African name (and wondering what it means). It isn’t! It is actually a compaction of three English words that describe its location south west of Johannesburg or as it used to be known before it was compressed, “South West Township”.

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