For me, Gospel music is one of the most moving musical genres in the world. I am also very influenced by Jazz, Soul and R’n’B all of which originate in Gospel music. I didn’t grow up near a Gospel church, but I have always wanted to go to one and sing. I got a taster in London, going to open mic neo-soul nights that were run by in house gospel bands, and 90% of the singers there were gospel singers, I learnt a lot there.
However, the Tabernacle ministry service in South Africa with around 3000 people was on another level!!!
I was there on Sunday with some of the Micheck team- Daimion Peppers, Jus Rolle, and my producer Adam Nicholas.For these guys simply being in Africa is a life changing experience. Peppers and Jus are ‘African American’ and Adam is half Ghanian; and this is their first time in Africa. To be in an African church too, felt like home as they’ve grown up with it, and yet, it’s a home they’ve never known. I looked over to see the look on their faces and saw grown men were nearly crying! (I think Jus did even have a secret cry, Daimion was definitely crying inside and Adam had tears in his eyes!) When you see grown men with tears in their eyes, you know you’re not the only one moved by the experience! We really had to hold back from making a crying scene at certain moments!
I also grew up going to church, and I come from a religious/ spiritual background. Catholic mother, and a Quaker father, I went to the local Quaker church every Sunday, where you worship in silence and appreciate the spiritual essence of Christ. I love the silence, but love music also… So I felt like I was at home too :-)
The Soweto Gospel choir performed for us all and it was really beautiful to see how proud the community were of them. The choir have travelled the world and shown people South African music, they have helped to put Soweto on the map! It’s great that despite their hectic schedule, they take time to give back to their community and be a part of it. They all started singing in church of course too :)
Another impressive local choir and some amazing singers and dancers performed too. So we were really spoilt for music!
and then they invited us to perform UNITE for them! Funnily enough, I didn’t feel nervous when I got on stage, even though there were some incredible singers way way better than me there!! But that didn’t seem to matter, there was so much love in the room for music and for God, that I felt I had nothing to fear, and I didn’t :) After I sang with Adam on guitar and Jus rapping a bridge section, we left the stage with the crowd saying “We love you” and “You belong here”. Humbling <3
Later on a local police woman did an inspiring speech to urge the community to come together and pray for one another, warning of the local problems of drugs, human trafficking and other crimes. She said “the young lady sang a song, and she said Simunye- so we must come together as one to tackle these issues”…. that was another really humbling special moment. :)
At the end of the Soweto Gospel choirs performance, they invited all the singers to come and join in on ‘ Oh Happy Day!’ Powerful- with so many beautiful voices around me I felt like an angel in heaven ;)
And after that we topped off the soul music with some real soul food!! We had some home cooked chicken, spinach, pumpkin and something similar to plantain.. mmmm!
We are waiting for the video to come back of our performance, but for now.. here is a little clip I made (to my best ability!) to give you an idea of what we experienced at the church. Hope it can give you some idea and maybe you too can taste the inspiration :)
I am 100% going back there when I come back to South Africa…
PEACE, LOVE AND LIGHT
Today we recorded the Soweto Gospel choir and my lead vocal for my single ‘Unite’ at SABC studios in Johannesburg, and I couldn’t be happier with the results!
It’s quite emotional for me to see the song come to life after such a long time working on my original music.. and it’s a great feeling to finally have music that I can feel real proud of and want to share with the world. :)
We really had a lot of fun, and I even got to borrow a few bits from their amazing wardrobe! ;)
I feel so inspired by the choir, and so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with them. Their energy is amazing and the freedom and faith with which they sing will be something I will remember always, and learn from.
So todays video teaser is a small snippet of the amazing bass section in session. Fella’s, just try hitting those low notes- can you do it?! ;)
I can watch that clip over and over again! :)
To top off a great day, after the recording the choir took us to a bar in the heart of Soweto where we danced to Kwaito and some really funky house with African flavour.
So before I pass out, I wanted to share a few lyrics with you..
For the bridge part of the song the choirs very talented musical director Diniloxolo Ndlakuse wrote a few extra lyrics that the choir sing to echo what I am saying, in Zulu.
Thuthuzeka- Stay calm
Ungakhali- Dont cry
Simunye- We are united
I’ve always dreamed of coming to Africa, and for the last few years South Africa has been top of the list.
So I knew I would make it here soon… but did I ever dream that it would be to record with one of the best choirs in the world?
No… that would have felt like wishful thinking… but here I am! :)
Today I had a rehearsal with the Soweto Gospel choir before we go to record at the studio tomorrow. We started out with one of the best vocal warm ups I’ve ever witnessed (!) .. and then got straight into listening to what they have arranged based on the recording we sent over..
Well, when I say I was overwhelmed… it’s an understatement! I knew they would deliver. But honestly, they have completed the song perfectly. They did exactly what we had imagined- and more.
After the rehearsal we were treated to some performances of their other songs. They did an amazing rendition of the classic song by South African superstar Miriam Makeba ‘Pata Pata’, and we joined them to sing and dance… that video will have to be on the DVD- a moment to remember! :)
The choir are out of this world..
You cannot help but absorb the beautiful energy they exude and be inspired by it.
I am sure people will also feel that when they hear them sing on the song, it’s something beyond words. :)