Monday, March 31, 2014

Walton Arts Center: Soweto Choir

In the darkened auditorium of the Walton Arts Center, an orange glow began illuminating the stage. A song, reminiscent of the Lion King, suddenly filled the air. A colorfully clad group quickly emerged, dancing and singing in their African dialect. And students and leaders were captivated by it all.

Fayetteville and Springdale Summit, as well as mentors and their mentees in the Camp War Eagle Mentoring program, had the opportunity to attend a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir through the WAC Take-A-Seat program. The choir, hailing from South Africa, has received much deserved acclaim, from a Grammy Award to a performance at the World Cup. Their music is beautiful and engaging, ranging from African chants to audience favorites such as “In the Arms of an Angel” and old hymns. The Choir even invited audience members to dance along with them during the final songs.

Fayetteville students especially enjoyed dancing during the last two songs. Renee Danie said, “I liked the part where we all got up and danced!” The other girls chimed in, “They were really good...better than Canei and Renee” (poking fun at their friends excitement during the performance). Student Lexi Lenox appreciated how they dedicated the entire performance to Nelson Mandela, and many of the others said parts of the show made them want to cry. Students were very grateful for the opportunity for a unique cultural experience, and they did not want the show to end.

Following the performance, members of the Soweto Choir interacted with guests in the WAC lobby. Students enjoyed speaking with the performers and taking pictures with them. And as the lights dimmed and the choir departed, students now have lasting memories of celebrating the Good News, a message that transcends time and cultures, through both song and dance.