Sometimes we only seem to hear negative news about Soweto; the terrible living conditions, the lack of facilities and the poverty of many residents all combine to present a picture of deprivation and oppression. In recent years, however, things have started to change: Soweto has become a centre for African culture and nightlife, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Soweto String Quartet and Soweto Melodic Voices have all shown the world what the townships can do, and now a 5-piece a capella group, Simply Soweto Encha, (formerly Africa Entsha) is touring internationally to perform its take on gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop and R ‘n’ B music and dance. On Friday the group opens a month’s residency at St John’s Church in Edinburgh as part of the just Festival.
Simply Soweto Encha celebrates South African oral and dance traditions by performing Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana and Swahili songs, all full of rhythm and harmony. Its members, Dumi, Jabu, Morgan, Lwazi and Sbu are inspired by the rich culture of their Sowetan roots: audiences love their energy, commitment, pitch-perfect singing and energising dance. These guys can move from tenderness to comedy, intensity to banter and back again – and they can take you with them.
So book your tickets now for what promises to be one of the most uplifting and joyful events this summer. Simply Soweto Encha will perform at St John’s Church, Princes Street at 8.30pm (one hour show) on 1st, 3rd-6th, 8th, 10th-13th, 15th, 17th-20th, 22nd and 25th August and at 6pm on 9th, 16th and 23rd August. Tickets cost £15/£13 and can be booked online or by contacting Brown Paper Tickets (a fair trade ticketing company) at Miller Row, EH4 3BQ, tel: 0800 411 8881, either in person or by phone.