Soweto Gospel Choir in the Mountains for the first time

They inhabit their stage. With soaring melodies, uplifting harmonies, exuberant dancing and infectious drumming, a performance by the Soweto Gospel Choir is a moving, emotional and inspiring event.

And the multi award-winning, colourful and exhilarating gospel choir is coming to the Mountains for the first time next month, with a concert at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood.

The Mountains' stop is one of 48 on a tour that is seeing the choir travel from the southern tip of Western Australia, up through the desert, north to Darwin, across to Cairns then down the eastern seaboard and all the way to Tasmania.

It started in early July and continues until mid-September, a marathon of more than two months on the road.

But for the choir, it's like one long family road trip.

Soweto Gospel's general manager, Mulalo Mulovhedzi, who also a bass singer, said: "We have been travelling together for some years now and we are more like a family.

Harmonies, dancing and drumming.

Harmonies, dancing and drumming.

"We know each other's strength and weaknesses and we also try by all means to support each other during good and bad times.

"Our secret to stay fresh and energised is that we exercise, pray and sing a lot of spiritual songs before the show."

While traversing the entire continent is nothing new to a group which has spent the past 16 years touring the world, Mr Mulovhedzi conceded some of the long distances are "obviously challenging".

"But we get a chance to rest and chat to our families whilst on the road," he said.

The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in 2002 to celebrate the inspirational power of African gospel music. It draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto.

The choir is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music with audiences around the world, and has done so with and for some of the world's pre-eminent figures (see story at right).

While this year is the first concert in the Mountains, the choir has been to Australia many times. In fact, the first of many, many awards it has received was a Helpmann for best contemporary music concert in 2003.

For Mr Mulovhedzi, it is is sixth tour to these shores.

"The audience really really love the choir and you can tell from their reactions. Especially when we sing sad songs, you will find some people in tears. Then we sing joyful songs and the audience normally clap and dance with the choir."

The choir has heard about the "incredible scenery" in the Mountains and will be taking in some of the best views, Mr Mulovhedzi said.

Uplifting music of the Soweto Gospel Choir.

Uplifting music of the Soweto Gospel Choir.

This is the Soweto Gospel's Freedom tour, celebrating the centenary of Nelson Mandela's birth and the South African struggle for freedom.

As well as their traditional South African anthems, they will perform stirring renditions of Amazing Grace, Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and much more.

Tour producer, Andrew Kay, said: "The group continues to inspire fans worldwide, but the reaction we get from audiences in Australia is unforgettable. We hope that our uplifting message of hope, faith, and joy reaches audiences new and old on this special return visit as we celebrate the legacy of the great Nelson Mandela."

The Soweto Gospel Choir is at the Hub in Springwood on Saturday, August 17. For tickets see