Belmont University’s Chorale recently posted a video of their flash mob performance of South African hymn “Hlonolofatsa,” a song sung in one of South Africa’s 11 original languages, at a restaurant in Memphis. Within days, the video went viral as more than 400,000 people viewed it on the group’s Facebook page, and more than 1.3 million people saw the post on ChoirBuzz, a facebook page that covers choral news and information from across the country.
After posting the video, Chorale member Emily Kivi received a message from a reporter representing the Daily Sun, a South African newspaper. Upon speaking with Dr. Ames, reporter Abigail Javier published a story covering the group’s performance.
Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor in the School of Music Dr. Jeffery Ames said he prides himself in the opportunity to expose his students to multicultural music. Taking care to program classical works along with spirituals, concert gospel music or music from other cultures, Ames said the hymn “has a wonderful call and response beginning between the soloist and the choir and is a spectacular addition to any performance.”
The group’s rendition of the hymn illustrates how people of all backgrounds can celebrate each other in powerful ways, Ames said. “This is an amazing example of how music transcends race and ethnicity. I love how this impromptu performance happened at the restaurant. The translation is, ‘Bless everything in the name of the Father,’ and in our current world, we all need to speak blessings more than hatred.”