The Soweto Gospel Choir, "Grace"

84 Billboard Rating

The Soweto Gospel Choir's latest album, "Grace," is easily as exuberant and inspired as any of its past efforts. The aptly titled 19-song set-the South African group's fourth release on Shanachie Records-is a creative blending of traditional South African gospel numbers with elegantly conceived arrangements of contemporary tunes, such as "Voices on the Wind." The choir's performance is a sustained display of individual and ensemble virtuosity, underwritten by its deep spiritual sensibility. The track "Eli" is an infectious cut reminiscent of the township jive that is one of the foundational styles of South African pop music. Lucas Bok's gospel-inflected arrangement of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is another highlight. Traditional South African gospel piece "Muphulusi" features the choir accompanied only by hand drums and a strong solo vocal from Bongani Khumalo, and Sipokazi Nxumalo's gentle delivery of "Prayer for South Africa" is also a noteworthy vocal performance.

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