South African Gospel Choir Makes UGA Presents Debut

November 2, 2022

Men and women in colorful clothing sing while standing on railroad tracks

“This choir has the spirit of gospel deep in its blood — and it shows.”—Washington Post

The South African Soweto Gospel Choir appears in Hodgson Concert Hall Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. with a program titled Hope: It’s been a Long Time Coming, which traces both the Black American struggle for civil rights and the fight against apartheid.

This all-new concert by the three-time Grammy-winning choir opens with a rousing program of South African freedom songs that inspired their Rainbow Nation. Then the choir’s uplifting performance moves to the United States with beautiful renditions of the music of the civil rights movement, including works by legendary artists James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, and the one-and-only Aretha Franklin.

Hailing from Soweto (SOuth WEst TOwnship), a township outside of Johannesburg and home of Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s democratic movement, the Soweto Gospel Choir continues to inspire audiences around the world with their powerful blend of African gospel, freedom songs, and international classics.

Comprising a line-up of some of South Africa’s best singers, these uplifting performers have shared the stage and collaborated with the biggest names in contemporary music, including Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce, U2, Diana Ross, Peter Gabriel, Chris Martin, John Legend, Pharrell Williams, Jimmy Cliff, Ben Harper, Angelique 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 newly democratic South Africa, Soweto Gospel Choir is proud to have performed on many occasions for the father of their nation, former President Nelson Mandela, and sadly at his state funeral in South Africa and at the subsequent commemorative service at Westminster Abbey in London. They were similarly invited to perform at the funeral service for the late President’s first wife, Winnie Mandela. The Choir acts as ambassadors for the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

In its Athens debut, the choir is also giving a Piedmont Athens Regional Performance for Young People in the morning before the UGA Presents concert, and a workshop that is free and open to the public in the Performing Arts Center’s Ramsey Hall from 12:30 p.m.-1:45 p.m.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is just one of the international groups on the UGA Presents calendar. Jan. 23, the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine brings Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony to Athens. Scottish folk group Breabach comes to Hodgson Concert Hall Feb. 24. And Yamato: The Drummers of Japan will make a UGA Presents debut March 24.

For a complete list of UGA Presents performances, click here.

Three Ways to Order Tickets

  1. Purchase tickets online 24/7 online here.
  2. Call the Performing Arts Center Box Office at (706) 542-4400, Mon.-Fri., 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
  3. Visit the UGA Performing Arts Center Box Office, Mon.-Fri., 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (5 minute parking is available in the drop off circle at the Performing Arts Center for purchasing or picking up tickets.)

Photo: Gas Photographic