Through his job in the media, my friend James often scores complimentary tickets to concerts and events happening around Sydney, and as he usually gets 2 tickets has been known to distribute the largesse between his friends, depending on their interests. He asked me the other day if I'd be interested in seeing a matinee yesterday afternoon of 'African Spirit' by the Soweto Gospel Choir. I knew a bit about the choir but not much, and it sounded like a great opportunity to see something I normally might not have shelled out the bucks to go see.
I have to say that I was really very pleasantly surprised. I like gospel music and traditional spirituals, and I love African traditional rhythms, so I guess I shouldn't have been as surprised as I was at how much I enjoyed it. The stage presence and dancing was something I hadn't considered, and the choir certainly put on a fantastic show. What I especially loved was that although the choir were basically all singing and moving in unison they had plenty of room for personal expression. James and I quickly picked out two favourites, two of the traditionally built women (as Mma Ramotswe would say) who were a joy to watch. The show flew by at two halves of around 45 minutes each, with an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end and a couple of spirited encores.
James and I shared a few laughs at just how, well white some of the audience were. When it came to clapping it was clear that to some of the audience rhythm is a foreign concept. During an encore one of the women from the choir got a nice looking young guy up out of his seat to dance, and while he didn't do too badly he had that kind of slightly uncomfortable/slightly out of rhythm dance that many straight white boys seem to have made their own.
It was a great way to spend an afternoon. The choir supports an orphanage for AIDS orphans in Africa, and at the end of the show many of the choir members were in the foyer collecting donations. So not only entertaining, but a very worthy cause also.