Sole music: South African choir given shoes for Edinburgh appearance

Choir benefits from crowd-funding campaign

arts correspondent

A South African choir has left its poverty-stricken township in South Africa for the first time to perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – but only after organisers raised money to buy them shoes.

Of all the acts performing at this year’s event, it is undoubtedly the most unusual hurdle to confront organisers who realised that the Dloko High School Choir would not have shoes to wear on stage – let alone to make the long journey to Scotland.

So they started a crowd-funding campaign online to raise £1,200 to buy all 30 performers new shoes, which were on display last night as the choir gave their first performance. “As well as keeping their feet warm through the unpredictable August weather, these shoes are also likely to last them a long time once they are back home,” the organisers said.

“This is the first time these children have been out of the township,” said Alex Wallace, the former headteacher of James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh who forged a link with the school in 2003.

“It is their first time on a plane, first time out of South Africa, and obviously the first time at the Fringe.” Neither the rain nor their bus breaking down on the way from the airport was enough to stop them being “bowled over” by their first trip to the country.

“When the boys who are staying with me came to the house their jaws dropped and their eyes were wide open because they live in iron corrugated shacks and have not seen houses that are typical for us to live in. And as black children they’ve never been invited into a white person’s house.”

All 30 singers, who are aged between 15 to 20, come from the “J” section of Umlazi, a township south west of Durban. The organisers have described it as an “area beset by horrific levels of violence and crime”.

Mr Wallace said: “I’ve known the choir since 2006. They are very special. The school they are at is one of the most disadvantaged in the township. There are so many good singers and choirs over there but Dloko is special. “They have a background that will touch your heart, they come out of corrugated iron shacks to go to school, then they sing with such magnificent joy and passion.”

The choir will be performing at the festival for two weeks, and will be raising money to help tackle the poverty in the singing group’s township.

Mr Wallace, who retired as headteacher in 2011, had set up the Jabulani Project eight years earlier to work with street kids, orphans and sexually abused children in South Africa, and takes volunteers out from Scotland to provide help. Through that, the John Byrne Award, a prize aimed at young people in Edinburgh and Durban, learnt of the Dloko choir, and founder Andrew Paterson offered to bring them to this year’s festival.

Despite their fraught journey from Glasgow on Sunday, Scotland has already left a huge impression on the choir.

They first performed yesterday at an 18th-century church and they will be playing at the Assembly Rooms later this month. All the venues have been offered to the choir without charge.

“People have been incredibly kind in supporting the choir and providing the performance spaces,” Mr Wallace said. “All the money from ticket sales will now go back home.”

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test