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Nelson Mandela University’s award-winning choir received an unexpected thumb’s up from Mango Groove lead singer Claire Johnstone for their rendition of the South African band’s own song “Faces to the Sun”.

Johnstone went online to share her delight at the choir’s performance – filmed especially for the virtual Autumn Graduation season and in tribute to all students and musicians globally – of the upbeat song.

Watch the 49-second clip of Johnstone singing the praises of Mandela University Choir’s performance at the Mandela bench

“Despite the trials we face, it is important to celebrate our resilience and achievements,” says conductor Ulagh Williams. 

For the choir who have been unable to perform in public because of COVID-19 regulations, this has meant, for example, that each singer and instrumentalist has had to be recorded individually.

“Let’s just say it was a steep learning curve for all! But how wonderful to be recognised for our performance by Johnstone herself.” 

The adapted Mango Groove song sung in tribute to the Mandela University graduation in their collective journey of pain, loss and uncertainty, has been extended to all musicians and students globally.

Along with many new choir members (who auditioned virtually), the full choir was also joined by Mandela staff and alumni on musical instruments, including the saxophone and marimba, and Gqeberha vocalists Asanda Mqiki and Zizipho Bekapi. 

The Nelson Mandela University Choir pays tribute to the much-loved South African band, Mango Groove. The performance is dedicated to students across the world and to all musicians who have been unable to perform live during the pandemic. 

Contact information
Mr Ryan Pillay
Deputy Director: Arts, Culture and Heritage
Tel: 041 504 2508