Music Review by Luchae Williams
Proudly South African songs of hope
Birthed at an In Harmonie worship retreat in Franschhoek, Vibrancy – A Collective of Creatives, is a project spurred on by a group of worship leaders who originally got together to draw from and write with American songwriting aficionado, Rita Springer.
Springer, who has mentored big names in Christian music such as Kari Jobe and Jeremy Riddle, championed the diverse group of talented spiritual leaders, facilitating a songwriting workshop with the themes of rest, restoration and reconciliation.
“Our idea was that every person attending this retreat would leave In Harmonie with renewed inspiration, enthusiasm and courage; with new hope-bearing songs to sing and share in their communities; and with new friendships,” says experience designer Andriëtte de la Harpe.
The result exceeded everyone’s expectations — the birth of a brand new album, titled One. The album contains seven original tracks, boasting a diverse sound that celebrates our country’s rich heritage. And while no two songs sound the same, the underlying theme is clear, with bold penmanship and vocal excellence driving home a message that God is in the business of restoration and that it’s not too late for our country and it’s people to experience reconciliation.
“The songwriters come from various cultural, denominational and racial backgrounds and created this music from a place of vulnerability. Relationships were formed to help build a bridge of reconciliation. The result offers a sneak peek at heaven-on-earth through music,” says Andriëtte. “We trust that all South Africans will sing these songs of hope and, in doing so, will contribute to the restoration of and victory over the current disharmony in our country. This album is a symbol of God’s faithfulness.”
Be Glorified, the first single from the album, is a powerful worship song that features four different South African languages – English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sotho. Written by Ima Mashazi, Langa Mbonambi, Karien de Waal and Koketso Molaolwe, the song was birthed out of a desire to want to dedicate the country back to God. A representative from the songwriting team explained: “It doesn’t matter who we are or where we are from, this song gives us the opportunity to celebrate God as one nation.”
My favorite track, on the album, is Lebohang Kgapola’s Least of These (Vuka / Arise). The song, which you can listen to below, is written as a reminder to the broken and prodigal, that “the Father’s making you whole/He’s waking up your sleeping soul.” With a beautiful melody made even more so with Kgapola’s gorgeous vocal, the song was inspired by the Scripture in Isaiah that speaks about the Spirit of God calling dry bones to life. The bridge says “vuka!” which means “arise!”
Kgapola’s stunning vocal can also be found on the Afro-centric Planted. This guitar-driven ballad, which also features worship leader and guitarist Rashid Adams, speaks about finding peace in obedience.
I quite enjoyed the dance-themed track called One, featuring Lesego Senwamadi & CJAY. With an almost dub-step flavour, the song’s pre-chorus says: “As the brilliance of your light breaks forth/Darkness is our dance floor/We have won this war/Party on the dance floor!”
Carlyn Ganz and Gideon Nel feature on the reflective Tot Stilstand — an emotive worship track that speaks about finding rest in the presence of God. Another track that allowed me to breathe in the peace and rest of God was Megan Schilder’s In Just One Moment. The song is a celebration of the creativity of God and Schilder’s remarkable vocal adds another layer of flavour and depth to the beautiful lyric that she has penned.
Thanks to the various artists (Hemelbesem, Joe Niemand, Sumarie Schoeman, Ndumiso Manana, Rouchelle Liedemann, Rashid Admans, Sima Mashazi, Langa Mbonambi, Lebohang Kgapola, Lesego Senwamadi, Mégan Schilder, Gideon Nel, Carlyn Ganz, Cjay, and more) who collaborated on this project, we are blessed to bea ble to enjoy a collection of worship songs that is written specifically for us, as a country.
“As someone from outside the country and its circumstances, it was incredible to see that although there were many different cultures and languages involved in the creation of the album, the hearts and music of the parties involved spoke the same language of love. Something very special happened and the diversity of the cultures are captured in the words and melodies of every song,” says Rita Springer.
Along with lyric and song story videos, you can also pick up the sheet music of each track on the Vibrancy website, making it easy for churches across the country to participate in singing proudly South African songs. I enjoyed this album and highly recommend that you give it a listen!