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The true and inspiring story of how singing has propelled a children’s choir from a South African township onto the world stage.

{mosimage} Director Holly Lubbock tells the true and inspiring story of how singing has propelled a children's choir from a South African township onto the world stage.

In June 2008, 77 under-privileged children were given the opportunity of a lifetime. They had worked, focused and trained like never before and now, this day, June 4th, would see the fruits of their labour ripen into the chance to prove themselves not only to their own community, but to the rest of the world.

These 77 young people from Gugulethu township, South Africa make up the Fezeka High School Choir; guided skilfully and magnificently by Phumi Tsewu, their devoted choirmaster. He is nothing if not ambitious, and the 3 hours-a-day rehearsals that he demands of them have seen them reach the dizzy heights of national singing champions no less than 7 times.

Rehearsals and Fundraising

He knows that helping them reach the top of their game not only satisfies his desire to see them fulfil their potential, but gives these kids a point of focus and a sense of pride so sorely lacking in many township communities. That he is able to help them compete and win at a national level is a testament to his commitment, determination and sheer hard work.

This hard work paid off tenfold when, in 2007, the choir were paid a visit by the Salisbury Community Choir, a British choir who'd met Phumi by chance in Cape Town the week before. With them came Jo Metcalf who was then the director of Salisbury's annual international arts festival. She and the rest of the Brits were blown away and before Fezeka's choir had finished their second song, Jo invited them to perform as part of her 2008 festival.

{mosimage} And so began a year of furious fundraising in the UK, and intense training and rehearsal in South Africa.

It's also at this point that we stepped in; the team behind the award-winning documentary film Fezeka's Voice.

Producer Katherine Crawley and I were contacted by Jo who thought the story of the kids' arrival to Salisbury might be a good film. We agreed and within a week were on a plane bound for Cape Town, not only to meet Phumi and his choir, but to see if the story of their journey could be not just a good film, but a great film. It is Phumi's commitment, charm and spirit as well as the devotion he inspires in his choir that helped to inspire us to make this film and tell his story.

We witnessed ..... a group of children not just elated from their first time abroad, but changed in how they saw themselves in relation to the rest of the world.

Our film follows him and his kids not only in preparation for England, but the trip itself as well as a follow-up one year later, and what we witnessed after the choir's return to South Africa was a group of children not just elated from their first time abroad, but changed in how they saw themselves in relation to the rest of the world. We began to see in them a sense of pride and personal accomplishment with more than half of the choir's seniors who graduated that year going on to higher education.

Since we began screening the film to audiences both in South Africa and in the UK, the response we've had has been phenomenal. People have resonated with Phumi's story in a tremendous way and thus was born the idea to screen our film followed by a live performance by the choir all over the UK. {mosimage}

So now in 2010, to celebrate South Africa during the World Cup, we are hoping to do just that. Our film has inspired a number of bigwigs from the UK's arts and culture world to guide this tour towards greatness, including South African composer, artist and activist Eugene Skeef as well as the London Philharmonic's education producer Richard Mallet.

Concert venues and arts festivals up and down the country are lining up to book the Fezeka experience. With invitations from London's Royal Festival Hall, Henley Festival, Music for Youth Festival, Wales Millennium Centre, Cheltenham Music Festival, and International Musical Eisteddfod, this tour could be something really special.


We are all working hard to raise the £50,000 needed to bring Phumi and 40 of his best singers to the UK this summer, and whilst donations are coming in from loyal supporters and friends of the film, we still have a long way to go to achieve this dream.

The positive effect an experience like this could have on Fezeka's choir is boundless, and is far beyond Phumi's dreams. Now we just need to make it happen.

For more information on the film Fezeka's Voice please visit; www.fezeka.com

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