Soweto Melodic Voices

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Each year, Creative Connections brings talented young performers from one of our partner countries to the USA to perform for schools and art centers in Connecticut and New York. Since 1999, we have hosted 18 touring groups from Russia, China, India, Uganda, Colombia, Ireland, Cambodia, Nicaragua and Brazil.

This year we are delighted to welcome the captivating Soweto Melodic Voices from South Africa.

The young performer’s tour takes place between April 25 – May 6. During this time Soweto Melodic Voices will be giving workshops and performances in over 14 schools and art centers.

These workshops and performances allow our student audiences to gain an insight into the South African culture through music, song and dance. This allows our students to expand their awareness, understanding and appreciation of the young performer’s culture. The “creative” connections made between audience members and performers are what make our tours so special.

Soweto Melodic Voices was co-founded by Leslie and Neria Madikane in May 2007 as an initiative to close an educational gap in the lives of local children. Its members live in Soweto, formerly one of the world’s toughest townships, and many are the orphans of families decimated by HIV and AIDS. The youths were brought together with the purpose of keeping them engaged; nurturing them physically, educationally, mentally, spiritually and most of all encouraging their natural talent. Their full choir is comprised of 38 youths aged 14-30. The group we have invited includes 12 of their most dedicated 14-20 year old students.

The choir has a large repertoire of music and dance to entertain audiences. They also produce shows that address social issues prevalent in their communities. The group’s motto is, “we sing when we’re happy and we sing when we’re sad” and with that they take audiences on a beautiful journey through inspirational moments to raucous dance numbers. During the tour the young performers will showcase a selection of songs and dances. This performance, for more mature audiences, will allow the troupe to include numbers on the social community themes they address in their performances back home in Soweto, where they are commissioned to tackle societal concerns such as AIDS awareness, social justice, and even Xenophobia. Their moving and powerful choral tribute to their late revered leader, the anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, global advocate for human rights and President, Nelson Mandela, will be featured in a Grace Farms performance.  A selection of their repertoire is shown below;

Songs

Africa Hee – is about where we come from and how proud we are of our roots. It unites us all as Africans.

Tsie ke eo – is a cry sung by the people of Balubedu, a village in Limpopo. The song announces the arrival of the destructive locust during a critical drought.

Ithuba loku thandaza – is derived from the olden days. It is sung to thank the Lord for giving them an opportunity to pray and ask for blessings.

Mbube – is also known as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Wimba Way” or “Awimbawe.” It was written in the 1920s by Solomon Linda, a South African singer of Zulu origin.

Dances

Zulu Dance ‘Indlamu’ – a traditional dance established during the battle of Isandlwana, which was a war that took place between the Zulu tribe and the British. It was a dance that helped them gain sufficient courage before engaging in any wars.

Pedi Dance- or Dinaka/Kiba dance, is used during indigenous African ritual practices, to celebrate traditional weddings and commemorations at cultural events of all types.

Batswana Dance – originates from the Khoisan also known as Cavemen. It stands heads and shoulders above most African traditional dances. It is unique, rhythmic and expressive; it is however at times used for storytelling and healing.”

During the tour Soweto Melodic Voices will be performing at our 2016 Gala & Benefit Performance on Saturday April 30th, held at Grace Farms. This showcase performance, featuring the artistry, spirit and beauty of our performers, combined with this special venue, promises to be an unforgettable evening. For more information and to purchase tickets please go to: https://creativeconnections.org/support-creative-connections/gala-benefit-performance/.

By Ellis Golden

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