Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director
Soweto Gospel Choir
Sunday, November 15, 2015, 3pm — Symphony Hall
(Boston) Celebrity Series of Boston will present Soweto Gospel Choir on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 3pm at Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston. Sponsored by Tufts Health Plan and D.L. Saunders Real Estate & Hotel Investors Group, AMO.
Tickets for Soweto Gospel Choir start at $45, and are available online at www.celebrityseries.org, by calling CelebrityCharge at (617) 482-6661 Monday-Friday 10:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m., or at the Symphony Hall Box Office, 301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston.
This appearance will mark the ensemble’s fifth performance with the Celebrity Series of Boston. Their most recent performance was in 2012.
Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in November 2002 in South Africa by promoters/presenters Andrew Kay, David Vigo and Clifford Hocking, in association with Executive Producer/Director Beverly Bryer and Musical Director David Mulovhedzi. In 2003 they won a Helpmann Award, Australia’s prestigious Performing Arts Award for “Best Contemporary Music Concert.” In May 2004 they won the 2003 American Gospel Music Award for “Best Choir,” in October they won the 2004 Gospel Music Award for “Best International Choir,” and locally, their debut CD “Voices From Heaven” was nominated for a SAMA Award for “Best Traditional Gospel.” Their next CD “Blessed” was released in July 2004, followed by “African Spirit” in 2007, through Universal Music. In September 2004 Soweto Gospel Choir performed three concerts at the Royal Festival Hall in London, followed by a countrywide UK tour. In November/December of that year the choir completed a tour of Spain, followed by performances in Berlin, Stuttgart and Hamburg. The choir completed a tour of the United States in April 2005 and returned to the US in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In June 2005 the choir performed in Athens and Spain, followed by a performance at St. Paul’s Cathedral, as part of the London Festival. In July they performed their “Voices From Heaven” show for the first time in South Africa at the Nelson Mandela Theatre in Johannesburg, before returning to tour in New Zealand and Australia in August.
The group has performed with numerous musicians and bands, including a guest appearance with Diana Ross, Deborah Cox and Danny K for the “Unite of the Stars” Gala Banquet in aid of the charities Unite Against Hunger and the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund. They have also performed for former president Bill Clinton, appeared on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and appeared before Oprah Winfrey in a New Year’s Eve performance. The choir also performed for Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 75th Birthday Celebrations, in front of former President Nelson Mandela, Mrs. Zanele Mbeki, Tokyo Sexwale, Samuel L. Jackson, Alfre Woodard and Carlos Santana, among others.
Soweto Gospel Choir received a second Grammy Award in the Best Traditional World Music Album, this time for the album “African Spirit,” and received its third Grammy nomination in December 2008 in the category of Best Contemporary World Music, for their album, “Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre.” The song “Down To Earth,” a collaboration with Peter Gabriel from the blockbuster movie Wall-E, won a Grammy in the Best Movie Song
category. In 2010 they received their fourth Grammy nomination, in the Best Traditional World Music category, for the album “Grace.”
In 2010 the choir collaborated with U2 as the featured South African artist on the songs “Streets Have No Name”, “Magnificent” and “Boots” for ESPN’s promotional campaign for the 2010 World Cup. Along with ESPN and U2, Soweto Gospel Choir received a Sports Emmy Award as winners of the Outstanding Music Composition/Direction/Lyrics category in May 2011. They can then add an Emmy to their two Grammys, three ‘associated ‘Grammys, three SAMAS and one Oscar nomination.
In 2013, the choir’s fifth album “Soweto Gospel Choir & Friends-Divine Decade” was released as a celebration of the choir’s 10th Anniversary. They were joined on the album by several guest artists including top local icons Zahara, The Soil, HHP, Elvis Blue, Corlea, Yvonne Chaka Chaka with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Johnny Clegg, as well as international artists Joepraize from Nigeria, Eric Wainaina from Kenya, Paul Ruske from New Zealand, Robert Plant and U2. Soweto Gospel Choir was nominated for a SAMA in the Best Collaboration category for their collaboration with Zahara on the song “Bambelele.” In October 2013, Soweto Gospel Choir was nominated for a Crown Gospel Award in the category “Best Gospel Group.” In November, while on tour in France, the choir performed for HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco. In December 2013, Soweto Gospel Choir teamed with Woolworths for a Youtube video tribute to Nelson Mandela, as part of a flash mob event, with the song “Asimbonanga.” The clip went viral and received over 3 million hits in its first week of release.
In February 2014, the choir performed with President Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman at the Nelson Mandela Tribute event in New York, as a fundraiser for the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory. Soweto Gospel Choir was next invited to perform at the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey in March. In April 2014, the choir was nominated for its sixth South African Music Award (SAMA) in the category “Best Contemporary Faith” album. In December 2014, the choir ended an exciting year by performing at the arrival home welcome for the newly crowned Miss World, South Africa’s Rolene Strauss.
The choir is an Ambassador for Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign and has performed at the Cape Town, Johannesburg, London and New York concerts with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Bono, Queen, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Clegg, Eddie Grant Amy Winehouse, Queen Latifah, Wyclef Jean, Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. They are also Ambassadors for SHOUT, 1Goal, United Nation’s MDG Envoys for Africa and Interpol’s “Proud to Be” campaign. The Choir also has their own AIDS orphans foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani, founded in 2003.
About Celebrity Series of Boston
Celebrity Series of Boston was founded in 1938 by pianist and impresario Aaron Richmond. Over the course of its 77-year history, Celebrity Series has presented an array of the world’s greatest performing artists, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Arturo Toscanini, Ignace Paderewski, Artur Rubenstein, Vladimir Horowitz, Glenn Gould, Fritz Kreisler, Jascha Heifetz, Isaac Stern, Andrés Segovia, Kirsten Flagstad, Marian Anderson, Luciano Pavarotti, Béla Bartók, Igor Stravinsky, Martha Graham, Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Mstislav Rostropovich, and the New York City Opera Company.
The Celebrity Series has been bringing the very best performers–from orchestras and chamber ensembles, vocal and piano music, to dance companies, jazz, and more–to Boston’s major concert halls for 77 years. The Celebrity Series of Boston believes in the power of excellence and innovation in the performing arts to enrich life experiences, transform lives and build better communities. Through its education initiatives, the Celebrity Series seeks to build a community of Greater Boston where the performing arts are a valued, lifelong, shared experience–on stages, in schools, at home– everywhere. For more information on Celebrity Series of Boston, call (617) 482-2595 or visit us online at www.celebrityseries.org.
The Celebrity Series of Boston, Inc. receives generous support from Amy & Joshua Boger; Donna & Mike Egan; Gabor Garai & Susan Pravda; The Garbis & Arminè Barsoumian Charitable Foundation; Stephanie L. Brown; David & Harriet Griesinger; Paul L. King; Jann Leeming & Arthur Little; The Royal Little Family Foundation; Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation; Stewart Myers; Eleanor & Frank Pao; The John S. and Cynthia Reed Foundation; Stiffler Family Foundation; Sanjay & Sangeeta Verma; Nancy Richmond Winsten; Charlesbank Capital Partners LLC; EMC Corporation; Foley & Lardner; Massachusetts Cultural Council; National Endowment for the Arts; The Peabody Foundation; PTC; Tufts Health Plan; The D.L. Saunders Real Estate & Hotel Investment Group, AMO; Vertex Pharmaceuticals.