Expectations and preconceptions skewed my view of the Soweto Gospel Choir. I had read about their Grammy awards and as an African American woman, I looked forward with great anticipation to their performance. When they walked out on stage, I joined with the rest of the audience to applaud their presence here in the US at George Mason University, but the first thing I noticed was the women’s hair and second was the costumes.
I know it is unfair to prejudge, but it is only human to have expectations, and I expected the African women to wear African hairstyles and/or hair wraps. So, I was taken aback that all but one of the women had African American hairstyles, which means braids and weaves. One of them even had strawberry blond hair.
Additionally, all members of the troupe wore nylon or polyester costumes. Somehow that didn’t seem like native attire, which was my expectation. So, as unfair as it is, this skewed my view because I was looking for authenticity.
On the other hand…. the music and dance was outstanding. The male dancers greatly outshined the women with their high kicks up to their heads. The only other disconnect was a tap dance routine performed by the men. Again, tap dancing does not fit into my idea of African Dance. The end of their program had the audience on their feet which was appropriate because their music made you feel like dancing, and their rendition of Oh Happy Days was rousing. At the end of the day, it was time well spent, extremely enjoyable, and everyone walked away with a smile on their faces and a song in their heart.