Soweto Gospel Choir. (Credit Lorenzo Di Nozzi)

Soweto Gospel Choir: Songs of the Free

Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 7:00pm

Soweto Gospel Choir, South Africa’s quintessential musical ensemble, brings a centenary celebration of the great freedom fighter and icon of reconciliation, Nelson Mandela, to The Soraya for Songs of the Free, a one-night only event on Sunday, October 7 at 7pm.

The Soweto Gospel Choir is a Grammy Award-winning group that has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music — including U2, John Legend, Peter Gabriel, and Diana Ross — and scored an Academy Award nomination for its work on the soundtrack to Pixar’s WALL-E. The 43-member choir, drawn from churches in and around Soweto, inspires audiences, sharing the joy of faith.

“The Soraya continues to bring some of the most celebrated artists from around the world, which includes the Soweto Gospel Choir and their tribute to Nelson Mandela, Songs of the Free,” said Thor Steingraber, The Soraya’s Executive Director.  “Soweto Gospel Choir has millions of fans all around the world because their music is truly universal.  Not only is there musicianship impeccable, they bring with them a message of love, unity and hope that adds a beautiful layer to their energetic performances.”

About Songs of the Free
Songs of the Free will be an evening of extraordinary music that mixes African gospel with traditional hymns, Jamaican reggae, American pop, and spiritually themed secular songs creating a “joyous, explosive performance.” Billboard describes the Grammy Award-winning ensemble as “absolutely thrilling” and The New York Times calls the quintessential South African group, “meticulous and unstoppable…spirited and spectacular.”

Soweto Gospel Choir Music Director Diniloxolo Ndlakuse said, “The significance of Nelson Mandela’s 100th commemoration to South Africans is, firstly and foremost a reminder of the role played by Nelson Mandela in moving South Africa from a position of being an undemocratic, oppressive society to one of a peaceful co-existence for all racial groups. Mandela represents love, peace, forgiveness and strength to the choir. He is a symbol of inspiration to the Choir.”

Nelson Mandela, the legendary, anti-apartheid, revolutionary South African leader, had a history with Soweto Gospel Choir. He was a big fan of the group, who performed for Mandela on several occasions, the last of which being his memorial service in 2013.

Single tickets for Songs of the Free beginning at $30 are now available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 818-677-3000. Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts is located at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330.  Ticket prices subject to change.

About the Soweto Gospel Choir
The Soweto Gospel Choir sings in six of South Africa’s eleven official languages on their new album, Freedom, (release date: Sep 14) but mostly in Zulu or Sotho, as well as English. The Choir’s first single is “Umbombela,” which means “train song,” is a composition that speaks of the travails experienced by black South Africans during the apartheid era, when migrant workers were forced to travel long distances away from their families in order to meet the harsh economic and political demands made by the government.

Formed in Soweto in 2002 by choir directors David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer, the group includes 30-some members and the show it produces is a powerful expression of hope and joy full of gorgeous South African vocal harmonies. The choir’s debut album, Voices from Heaven, appeared in 2005 from Shanachie Records, followed that same year by Blessed, also on Shanachie. African Spirit was released two years later in 2007 on the same imprint. In December of 2009 the choir lost co-founder and musical director David Mulovhedzi to cancer. In January of 2010 they released Grace, their fifth album on the Shanachie imprint. 2018 will mark the release of their sixth album, Freedom, marking Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.

About The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
The 2018-19 Season marks the eighth year the award-winning Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts which has quickly become one of the cultural jewels of the Greater Los Angeles region. Under the leadership of Executive Director Thor Steingraber, The Soraya continues to expand its programming and outstanding multidisciplinary performances.  The mission of The Soraya is to present a wide variety of performances that not only includes new and original work from the Los Angeles region but also work from around the world that appeal to all of LA’s rich and diverse communities.
Located on the campus of California State University, Northridge, The Soraya’s season offers a vibrant performance program of nearly 50 classical and popular music, dance, theater, family, and international events that will serve to establish The Soraya as the intellectual and cultural heart of the San Fernando Valley, and further establish itself as one of the top arts companies in Southern California. The award-winning, 1,700-seat theatre was designed by HGA Architects and Engineers and was recently cited by the Los Angeles Times as “a growing hub for live music, dance, drama and other cultural events.”

Date:                Sunday, October 7, 2018 at 7:00pm

Venue:             Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (The Soraya)
18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330

Prices:             Starting at $30.  Prices subject to change.
By Phone:       (818) 677-3000