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SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR
BLESSED
Shanachie
Stars graphics

In many African countries, gospel is a big seller. If you haven’t heard much of it, that’s because few African gospel acts rise to the level of the Soweto Gospel Choir. The group’s second international release includes African song, American classics ("I Bid You Goodnight," "O Happy Day," "Khumbaya"), and even a combined cover of Johnny Clegg and Peter Gabriel ("Asimbonanga/Biko"). South Africans have long been astute at adapting Western — especially American — music, and the traditional gospel numbers here are spirited, strong, and distinctive. But the rafters really get loosened on more heavily African-styled numbers like "Masigiye’bo," with its lush layers of vocal harmony and exhilarating hand clapping. On "Njato," the group pull out electric guitars and pump out township mbaqanga. And they round out Blessed with a few familiar African songs, like the timeless "Mbube" and the South African National Anthem.

BY BANNING EYRE


Issue Date: January 13 - 19, 2006
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