The Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at the opening ceremony for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the first time the World Cup will be hosted by an African nation. (Play the video at left to hear them perform "The Lion Sleeps Tonight.") The Choir is featured on the South Africa compilation released by Putumayo World Music, which features a dozen artists representing a variety of genres including Afrojazz, mbaqanga, and township jive. From an interview with the Soweto Gospel Choir at the Putumayo site:
Contemporary South African music reflects, among many others, the influences of indigenous tribal cultures (e.g. Zulu isicathamiya and harmonic mbaqanga), European cultures, American music (jazz, hip-hop, R&B, rock) and more. How do these influences affect your music?
Soweto Gospel Choir: “We spend most of the time performing internationally, and we have learned to accommodate other musical genres to impress our different audiences, as well as to broaden our own musical skills, but we make sure that we preserve our African sound, leaving room for learning in order to move on with the times.”
Do you think there is a musical thread or signature sound that is unique to South African music and can be heard when listening to the country’s contemporary music?
Soweto Gospel Choir: “Yes, we have our own signature which is filled with African drums, strong bass voices in the background supported by mbaqanga guitar sounds. This is the kind of sound which gives identity when South African music is played or performed.”
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