This 14-track project is a mixture of five original tracks which includes Afrika Hey that features music producer Sun-El, and has nine renditions of well-known covers.
The group from Moutse, a rural area near Dennilton, worked with other artists such as 25K, Tyler ICU and the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
Speaking to Sowetan, the 27-year-old Majola, who has been with the choir for 15 years, said over and above their thanksgiving, the album is a true testimony of the group’s journey of growth. He added that he has grown to become the choir’s logistics manager while also enjoying the pleasures of performances on the stage.
“We are grateful that we are still relevant in music and that we survived right through Covid-19. The support that we have received has enabled us to release albums even during the tough economic times. That speaks to the love that we are still receiving throughout the world.
“I am not the only one who has grown, we have other members who are now songwriters. In fact, one of the five original songs on the album is written by a member and we have been able to develop confidence in ourselves regardless of where we come from.
These changes and developments are also celebrated on the album by featuring a song written by one of the group’s choristers, Madoda Mshwame.
The choir initially began in 2009 as an afternoon activity started by Dr Hugo Tempelman. Tempel, the founder of Ndlovu Care Group, a rural project which brought much-needed services like a clinic to the Moutse community.
Firstly, the singing was sharpened by drama productions after a theatre was set up at Ndlovu centre, and that’s the Ndlovu Youth Choir began.
“We are from a very rural area with little to no opportunities or employment at all. The care group was established as a way of keeping the youth busy. One of the many negatives that the youth face in our community is that after they complete high school they return home.”
It was in 2018 when the country and the world woke up to the existence, via their daring rendition of Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You in Zulu, which caught the attention of talent scouts from America’s Got Talent.
As they say, the rest is history.
“The choir has given us purpose. You can imagine coming from a rural area with zero opportunities and getting the chance to go international. A lot of dreams, that we didn’t even know we had, came true. The choir was able to bring hope to our neighbourhood and to our family [as well],” said Majola.
This newly found inspiration, brought by the choir’s success motivated choir members to go beyond their community’s limitations and pursue dreams.
“We have similar stories as choir [members], of how it has changed us. We all doubted ourselves… You know, in rural areas, there is no motivation at all and when you push the envelope, you’ll be seen as saying better of yourself.
“When I started in the choir, I even doubted that I could sing. I was very shy. But now I can stand before a crowd of thousands of people and just sing. I now believe in myself because the choir has shown me the world.”
The other members have also started pursuing their individual dreams, studying part-time while some have also qualified as nurses and graduates in different fields; all thanks to the confidence that the choir has instilled in them.
Saying on their collaboration, Sun-EL said: “There has been great synergy between us; creating a song together was a natural progression of that relationship. Afrika Hey celebrates the beauty of Africa and encourages people to be proud of the continent and share that pride wherever they may travel about the world. We live in such a beautiful country, and we all have a responsibility to share this with the world.”
The album is available on various digital platforms.