The Soweto Gospel Choir is up for a third Grammy award after their latest project, Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre, was nominated last week for “Best Traditional World Music Album.”
The 26-strong choir, which performs in six of South Africa's eleven official languages, draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around the South Western Township on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Since 2002, the group has dedicated itself to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world.
"We were all overwhelmed," said Kevin Williams of the internationally acclaimed South African ensemble, which received the news right before a show in Burlington, Vt.
"There's no word that can describe that performance,” he told The Washington Post after that evening’s concert. “[O]nly the energy and gratitude that came off the stage can describe how it was."
Formed in November of 2002 by promoters and presenters Andrew Kay, David Vigo and Clifford Hocking, in association with executive producer and director Beverly Bryer and musical director David Mulovhedzi, the Soweto Gospel Choir has been an overnight, multi-award-winning sensation.
In addition to their two Grammys, the choir has also won a Helpmann Award - Australia’s prestigious Performing Arts Award - for “Best Contemporary Music Concert;” an American Gospel Music Award for “Best Choir;” and a Gospel Music Award for “Best International Choir.” Their debut CD, Voices From Heaven garnered rave reviews and reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s World Music Chart within three weeks of its U.S. release.
The choir has also toured the United States four times and other major countries, performing for high-level figures including Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton.
Through donations and collections after every show, the choir has raised over $135,000 in the United States and more than $1 million worldwide for Nkosi's Haven Vukani, a Soweto-based foundation they founded to assist AIDS orphans.
The choir was scheduled to perform in Bethesda, Md., Friday night after an appearance earlier this week in Philadelphia.