Multi-Grammy Award-Winning Soweto Gospel Choir will release their highly anticipated first new recording in four years, HOPE, on September 23, 2022. The Choir, whose staunch supporters have included both President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has performed for everyone from President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey and collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé and John Legend, among numerous others.
The diverse material on HOPE speaks to the extraordinary range and capabilities of Soweto Gospel Choir, who has scored two #1 Billboard singles on the World Music Chart. Singing in English as well as five of South Africa's eleven official languages including Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi and Tswana, Soweto Gospel Choir creates a riveting tapestry of lush harmonies and glorious rhythms.
Jiyane shares, "It means a lot to the choir as South African artists coming from a township called Soweto to take the sounds of South Africa to the world."
The Choir rehearsed the music for HOPE at the Mofolo Arts Centre in Soweto located within eyesight of the route of a historic and tragic protest on July 16, 1976. 10,000 youth protesters joined forces to protest the forced teaching Afrikaans. Jiyane explains, "Many school children died. The song "Mbayi Mbayi" which opens the album is one of the songs that was sung that day. It is a very personal song for us all but especially for people who live in Soweto. We all have families that died on that road. We have families who went out and joined the march and they never came back."
The cover of Hope is designed by the sensational South African illustrator, graphic designer and street artist, Karabo Poppy. Poppy has an impressive list of credits that includes work for Nike where she designed Air Force 1 sneakers worn by Lebron James.
HOPE also features a dazzling version of Al Bell's Stax classic sung by the Staple Singers "I'll Take You There," Stevie Wonder's poignant "Heaven Help Us All" sung in English, Zulu and Sotho and Hugh Masakela's "Sechaba," from the hit musical Sarafina! which premiered at the Cannes film festival in 1991.
A particularly breath-taking moment on HOPE occurs on the Xhosa hymn "Bawo Xa Ndilahlekayo," which means "Lord if I get lost, please lead me back to you." The song is dedicated to the Choir's beloved friend and leader, Mulalo Mulovhedzi who passed away in early 2022. Mulovhedzi, was a founding member and the General Manager of the choir. This was his favorite hymn. "We deeply feel his loss and are touched whenever we now sing it. It is as if Mulalo were still with us, taking his place beside us," collectively shares the Choir.