12 February 2008
South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir won a second consecutive Grammy Award in the category best traditional world music for their album African Spirit at a glitzy ceremony at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Soweto Gospel Choir executive producer and director Beverly Bryer, who co-founded the group in November 2002 with David Mulovhedzi, told BuaNews on Monday that winning the second Grammy was an incredible feeling.
“I have spoken to our musical director Lucas Bok who was at the awards to accept the Grammy, and the group’s absolutely ecstatic,” Bryer said.
The group fended off stiff competition from four other international acts to win, following up on their 2007 award for the album Blessed.
The Soweto Gospel Choir in its entirety is a 52-member group, but 26 members recently embarked on a tour to the UK, where they will be performing in 26 towns and cities between February and March.
“The other 26-member choir is busy rehearsing for their ‘Unite of the Stars Gala Charity Event’ where they’ll be performing with Celine Dion and Danny K at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg on 14 February,” said Bryer.
After the group’s UK tour, they will be jetting off for Lebanon, Australia, Fiji and a host of other countries, she said, adding that the live DVD album of African Spirit would be released in the middle of the year.
The choir, which performs in six of South Africa’s 11 official languages, previously won Australia’s Performing Arts Award for best contemporary music concert in 2003.
In May 2004 they scooped the 2003 American Gospel Music Award for best choir, following it up with another Gospel Music Award for best international choir in October 2004.
In 2004 the Soweto Gospel Choir’s debut CD, Voices from Heaven, was also nominated for a South African Music Award (Sama) for best traditional gospel. In April 2007 the choir won the 2006 Sama in the category best live performance DVD.
“It’s like being at a rock show, the people really love them and the response to the new album has been fantastic,” Bryer said.
The other 2008 Grammy nominees in their category were: When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq by Rahim Al Haj with Souhail Kaspar, From Mali to America by Cheick Hamala and Bob Carlin, Live at Couleur Cafe by Konono No1, and Singing For Life: Songs of Hope, Healing and HIV and Aids in Uganda produced by Gregory Barz.