Eric Krebs presents SING! A South African and American Musical Holiday Celebration is so musically thrilling, that if you don’t feel uplifted and ready for the holiday season, you seriously have a heart two sizes too small. The acoustics at St. Clement’s work perfectly with this powerful cast of musicians. Led by Thuli Dumakude, (Rafiki in The Lion King on Broadway), this songstress has pipes that are heaven sent. Her powerful vocals are sensational and through the roof. Ms. Dumakude also narrates the piece which though more of a concert, has a lot of interesting information. I actually wish there had been more of a book because, I was riveted. A lot of talk was of Miriam Makeba. The information was treated like we knew a lot about her and I actually had never heard of her before, so to expound that information would definitely be helpful. Also Nelson Mandela’s memory was honored and it was especially touching in the last song.
I can’t really tell you about the songs as they are not listed. The program is rather nondescript. You will here native South African songs, “In The Jungle” and the coolest version of “Jingle Bells,” played on a Kalimba. The music however permeates your soul and for the most part will have you chair dancing. I found I could not keep moving as the beats are so infectious.
The back-up singers also add a great deal of color. Silindile Sokutu, toured the US with Miriam Makeba, Nomthi Langa toured with South African singer Busi Mhlongo and Tanya Nomaziko Zondo, is a Zimbabwean singer, dancer and actress completes the trio of songbirds. The three women are all different types, with different sounds, but when the four get together in harmony it is rapturous.
Mar Gueye is blessed with the “Spirit of The Drum.”He is the nephew of master Senegalese drummer, Doudou N’Diaye Rose. Rose was considered the father of a musical dynasty and began performing in the 1930s, but continued to make his living as a plumber for some time. He performed and collaborated with Josephine Baker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Peter Gabriel, and the Rolling Stones. He was also the founder and chief drum major of the Drummers of West Africa and developed 500 new rhythms and that talent has definitely been passed on. His drum solo is one of the highlights of the show.
Saving the best for last Mthakathi’s is a one-man orchestra, whose musical talents are truly remarkable. He is also the musical director of the show creates musical magic. I tried to figure out how many instruments he plays and then loops to make amazing arrangements and spectacular sounds. His musicianship is unbeatable. Look for an interview shortly as Mthakathi is one of the best finds of 2016.
Zulu harmonies, phenomenal arrangements and sheer love of the craft permeate. Here the sounds of a nation bring forth it’s soul.
SING! A South African and American Musical Holiday Celebration is a do not miss if you love music, musicianship, heart and a eternal exuberance that is completely infectious.
SING! A South African and American Musical Holiday Celebration: Theatre at St. Clement’s, 423 West 46th St, through December 31st.