Harmonizing Soweto: Golden City Gospel & Kasi Soul from the new South Africa



Black vinyl. Today, South Africa and its young people are 30 years detached from the end of apartheid and the achievement of Black majority political—but crucially not economic—power. Regrettably, the country languishes as a land of broken promises and unrealized potential. In apartheid-era South Africa, gospel music provided solace and served as a subversive tool for covert communication to circumvent the censorship of the settler regime. By the 2010s, gospel music in South Africa, deeply ingrained in the soul of Soweto, assumed a new role—as a heartfelt cry against persistent failures and shortcomings, a cry mourning a South Africa that never materialized. A new South Africa needed a new gospel sound
Diepkloof United Voice knew this. In 2016, nine young men from different parts of Diepkloof, a celebrated neighborhood brimming with talent within Soweto’s sprawling township, came together, united by their shared home and impatience with the second highest youth employment rate in the world. Frustrated by the state's repeated failures, they embraced self-empowerment through music. Diepkloof’s competitive yet supportive music scene became their proving ground. Yet, Soweto grapples with pervasive drug use and high crime rates while young people suffer illnesses prematurely because of misguided choices. Diepkloof United Voice is a refuge, shielding its members from the perils of drugs, health issues, crime, and gangs. It has become all too common for young men to acquire criminal records in Soweto, but none of Diepkloof United Voice share that fate. When they sing, everything feels right, everything feels safe
It is the sole force capable of bringing about change in their lives. If they were to ever stop, they believe they would only contribute to the statistics of shattered lives in their midst. Since their formation in 2016, Diepkloof United Voice's music has gone viral multiple times on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook, garnering between 60,000 to 2 million views. The comments section displays flag emojis from Brazil to India, showcasing the global reach of their music. Locally too, the group will perform at funerals, weddings, theaters, graduation parties, churches, street parties, and radio stations, able to connect across generations. This album was recorded in an abandoned classroom of Lebowa Elementary School in Diepkloof Zone 3, where, symbolically, broken windows and brick walls created the backdrop for years of rehearsals and the honing of their sound
Sound file:
€ 25
Modal Dialog
This is a Modal Dialog.