The vibrant Ndlovu Youth Choir captured the hearts and minds of all South Africans and the world as they reached the final of America’s Got Talent last year with their soul-stirring performances. They will be ending an unprecedented 2020 on a high with the release of their eagerly awaited second album, Rise, across all digital platforms on Friday, 11 December.
The infectious energy of this 30-strong choir, ranging in age from 14 – 24 from the beautiful Moutse Valley in rural Limpopo, continues on this 12-track album.
While, the choir is synonymous with soul stirring renditions of well-known covers, re-interpreted with their own unique style, feel and breath-taking harmonies, making the songs their own, Rise includes two powerful original tracks, We Will Rise and Hold On.
The title track, We Will Rise, penned by Artistic Director of Ndlovu Youth Choir Ralf Schmitt, was written and released earlier in 2020 with the Entertainment Industry in mind. Schmitt explains; “We had just entered Lockdown Level 5 and our industry was one of the hardest hit. We felt it was important for us as the choir to show support and provide some inspiration that we WOULD rise again as a nation during this tough time.”
Schmitt continues; “For us as a choir, it is important that each project we take on has a strong focus on not only the performance aspect, but that it is an opportunity for us to upskill all our choristers where we can. We’re excited with the new direction the choir is taking in not only being a performing arts organisation but now also working in the writing space, creating new and original song content. The choristers’ collaboration has culminated in Hold On, a new original for the album.
All songs selected for the album have strong significance to the choir, whether for sentimental reasons, for their strong uplifting message, or wanting to showcase the choristers’ diversity and continued growth and development as artists as well as the creatives.
Listeners to Rise will enjoy the sensational Ndlovu Youth Choir interpretations of some of their favourite global hits including Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow (translated into Zulu), The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights, Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher (which the choir performed remotely for America’s Got Talent 2020’s Semi Finals), and the runaway Master KG hit Jerusalema, a song they recorded after the country’s president gave a call to action for Heritage Day for South Africans to take up the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge during lockdown. They took it one step further in true Ndlovu Youth Choir style, and recorded a re-imagined version of the hit, watch here
Ndlovu Youth Choir pays stunning tribute to the Paul Simon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo classic, Homeless as a tribute to Joseph Shabalala who died earlier in the year. Ladysmith Black Mambazo paved the way for choirs such as this one and they wanted to add their own interpretation to this instantly recognisable hit to pay homage to a legendary group their have long looked up to.
The collaboration with Berita on Ungandibulali – meaning ‘Don’t Kill Me’ when translated from Xhosa into English – was important for the choir to include as a reminder of the role of young people to better understand gender based violence.
When Karen Zoid approached the choir to join her and SA sports hero AB De Villiers on the rousing The Flame, they jumped at the chance to work with this inspiring talent and artist who has had such a massive impact on the South African music industry.
Shosholoza will activate the goosebumps aplenty as this stirring rendition includes the famous speech by legendary rugby commentator Kaunda Ntunja who sadly passed away earlier this year due to the Corona Virus and is on the album, along with the National Anthem, as a reminder to us all that we CAN persevere and get through adversity.
On Shallow, Homeless and the National Anthem, listeners will experience the choir’s unique vocal percussions on the tracks, culminating in an exciting and varied album the choir is tremendously proud of, and can’t wait for their supporters both at home and across the globe, to enjoy.