January 20, 2010

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — The Soweto Gospel Choir will open the spring semester of Bucknell University's Weis Center series on Friday, Jan. 29, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30.

"Returning after a sold-out concert four years ago, the Soweto Gospel Choir will perform, in eight different languages no less, an inspirational program of tribal, traditional and popular African and Western gospel," said Bill Boswell, executive director of the Weis Center.

Formed in November 2002 to celebrate the unique and inspirational power of African Gospel music, the Soweto Gospel Choir recorded its first album a month later.

The album, "Voices of Heaven," reached the top spot on Billboard's world music chart within three weeks of its U.S. release. The choir's second and third albums, "Blessed" and "African Spirit," received Grammy Awards in the best traditional world music recording category, and the song, "Down to Earth," from the movie "Wall-E," won a Grammy in the best movie song category.

The choir has toured the world extensively, performing at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Festival Hall in London, and the Nelson Mandela Theatre. Notable performances include a concert for President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey.

In addition to touring, the choir also is active in philanthropic causes. While in New Orleans, it recorded a track with rock legend and Robert Plant that was included on a Fats Domino tribute album, the proceeds of which are being used to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Six years ago, the Soweto Gospel Choir founded its own AIDS orphans foundation, Nkosi's Haven Vukani, to assist organizations that receive little or no funding. To date, the choir has collected over $4 million for the foundation. In South Africa, the choir performs for a variety of charitable organizations. For more information, visit www.sowetogospelchoir.com.

Ticket information
Tickets for this Weis Center series performance are available in person from the Campus Box Office in the Weis Center weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or at the Bucknell University Bookstore on the ground floor of the Elaine Langone Center weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance tickets also are available: call 570-577-1000 or visit www.bucknell.edu/Boxoffice. The box office in the Weis Center lobby opens one hour before performances.

The 2009-10 season of Weis Center Events is generously supported by grants from the Bucknell University Association for the Arts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Additional support for the series is provided by numerous and generous private donors, including members of the Weis Center Green Room Circle and Green Room Board.

The next performance in the Weis Center series is Friday, Feb. 5: Piano soloist Jon Nakamatsu joins Philharmonia of the Nations in a program of music by Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler. Founded in the mid-'90s by conductor Justus Frantz, this symphony orchestra is a unique, multicultural gathering of talented young musicians from more than 40 countries and five continents. Tickets are $25 for the Feb. 5 concert. Visit Weis Center for more information about the Weis Center series.

Contact: Division of Communications