The Soweto Gospel Choir, direct from South Africa, to perform at Lehman Center

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The internationally acclaimed Soweto Gospel Choir will perform at Lehman Center on Sunday, Dec. 18.
Photo courtesy Lehman Center

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is honored to host the four-time Grammy award-winning and internationally acclaimed world music sensation Soweto Gospel Choir on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 4 p.m.

Direct from South Africa, the Soweto Gospel Choir returns to Lehman Center with an all-new concert, entitled “Hope: It’s Been A Long Time Coming,” commemorating the freedom movement in South Africa and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. The Soweto Gospel Choir will perform a series of South African freedom songs along with music of the Civil Rights era including selections by legendary artists James Brown, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield and the one-and-only, Aretha Franklin.

Soweto Gospel Choir’s universal message of love, unity and hope, along with its captivating melodic and harmonic wonder, mesmerizing showmanship, and awe-inspiring performances featuring bright and colorful carnival costumes, has made believers of millions of fans around the world. The choir was formed in Soweto, South Africa, in 2002 by choir directors David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer, the 20-member ensemble comprised of some of South Africa’s greatest singers, blends elements of African gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and American pop music.

Soweto Gospel Choir’s universal message of love, unity and hope has made believers of fans around the world.Photo courtesy Lehman Center

Their first album “Voices of Heaven” was recorded in December 2002 and went on to reach the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s World Music Chart within three weeks of its U.S. release. Their next album, “Blessed” (2005), won the 2007 Grammy for Best Traditional World Music as did their following release, “African Spirit” (2007), in 2008. In 2009, they were nominated for three South African Music Awards (SAMA) for their Grammy-nominated album “Live at the Nelson Mandela Theatre,” winning the SAMA for Best Duo or Group. They received their fourth Grammy nomination in 2010 for their next album “Grace.” The Soweto Gospel Choir has also received Grammy awards for their contributions on “Down to Earth” (2009), the choir’s collaboration with Peter Gabriel for the film “Wall-E,” and also two Grammys for Christopher Tin’s song “Baba Yetu” (2010).

Over the years, the choir has recorded and/or performed with stars as varied as Diana Ross, Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Pharrell Williams, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Josh Groban, Hugh Masekela, John Legend, the Black-Eyed Peas, Anjelique Kidjo and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to their Grammys, the choir has been honored with one Emmy award, three South African SAMA Awards (and six nominations), one Oscar nomination, and two Kora All African Award nominations, among others.

However, the Soweto Gospel Choir considers their greatest achievement to be their charity, Nikosi’s Haven Vukani, for which they have raised more than $1.5 million to assist victims of AIDS and their families in South Africa.

Lehman Center for the Performing Arts is on the campus of Lehman College/CUNY at 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W. Tickets for Soweto Gospel Choir ($75, $55, $45, $35 and $25) can be purchased by calling the Lehman Center box office at (718) 960-8833 (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m-5 p.m., and beginning at 4 p.m. on the day of the concert), or through online access at https://www.lehmancenter.org/events/soweto-gospel-choir.

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