Soweto Gospel Choir: A Preconceived View

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 to their performance with great anticipation . 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 word 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, it may be my preconceived notions about African dance, but tap dancing does not fit into my  idea of African Dance. The end of their program had the audience on their feed 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.

 

 

Spaceship Hijacked – Where is George Clinton?

It was billed as a George Clinton (i.e., Funkadelics) show beginning at 6pm. It turned out to be an NMAAH (aka National Museum of African American History) show.  I am a long standing contributor to NMAAH. I believe in NMAAH. I strongly support AAH, but…. Don’t get in the way of the Mothership!

I had picked up the kids from summer camp and arrived at 5:45 to be sure to get a seat under the tent. They balked at sitting for 45minutes, but agreed to do it for G’Ma. So, we sat and watched the parade of greyhairs arriving to take a trip up into the ship.

At 6:10 the MC started and introduced Meshell Ndegeocello (Who’s bad idea was that?), who thought she would win the greyhairs over by doing a poem about “I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Didn’t work. As she continued her non-funky, psychedelic  performance, the audience patiently waited for her set to end and “Bring on da funk”.

After sitting through a painful set of psychedelic, weird jazz, Tom Joyner took over as MC and was followed by luminaries connected with the NMAAH, and a video of the NMAAH groundbreaking. We are all thinking “OMG … when will this end… bring on da funk!!!”

Long story short… this was my shot at revisiting my youth via the Mothership and I missed it. The Gran’s patiently sat for two hours and the ship still had not landed. I couldn’t ask anymore of two 10-year olds. I used it as a lesson in “getting over it”. I explained that I had been excited to see the show, I appreciated their patience,  and I was disappointed that I missed it, but… it’s not the end of the world. I’ll catch the ship at its next stop.

Stay tuned