Award-winning South African Gospel choir Joyous Celebration visited Port Elizabeth as part of their national tour following the successful recording and release of their 21st album, Heal Our Land.
The Herald got a chance to chat with one of the co-founders of the choir, Jabu Hlongwane.
Hlongwane said when he founded the choir with Lindelani Mkhize and Mthunzi Namba, they only had a single show in mind.
“We were looking at the smooth transition into the new government from apartheid.
“So we wanted to do a show and express our gratitude to God and call it a joyous celebration,” said Hlongwane.
It was when the public wanted more that they produced album after album for the 21 years that followed.
“We did not have a plan in the beginning [and] we have no plan [further]. If God allows us to continue, we will continue,” he said.
Hlongwane said their job was only to make basic plans, and leave the rest to God to finalise.
This Hlongwane said, was how they ended up recording at Potter’s House in the US with Bishop TD Jakes.
“With Joyous 21, all we knew was that we wanted to record outside of South Africa, but we did not know where exactly.”
All it took was one conversation with Bishop TD Jakes and the rest was history.
Hlongwane said the title Heal Our Land was inspired by the evident political, economic and social unrest in the country and the world at large.
Therefore, the album is an appeal to God to intervene and heal the land.
He said the title also drew close inspiration from 2 Chronicles 7:14 in the Bible.
“God put in our hearts that we need to [unite] as a nation in prayer.
“So with this album we are calling on believers to come and pray with us,” said the veteran gospel singer.
Joyous Celebration is among the best gospel choirs in South Africa and the one remedy that keeps them at the top is constant engagement in prayer for God to use them.
“For any performer, rehearsal is important, but because we are used by God to touch people at a spiritual level there is no way we can [successfully] do that if we do not pray.
“For us, skill alone is dry. We aim to leave the audience with something [spiritual to take home],” he said.
He also touched on the importance of practicing what you preach (or sing) as a gospel artist.
“It is important to be a believer who strives to live according to their knowledge of God and if you falter along the way you do not become arrogant about it,” he said.
Hlongwane is also a solo gospel singer and author, and will be releasing his third live DVD Crosspower Experience 3 next month.
His book Finding MEaning was released last year.
The two-night concert had scores of Eastern Cape supporters make their way to the NMMU Missionvale campus earlier this month.