A Trip to See Project Zulu Choir
By Tot Foster, 20th July 2023
In this blog post, CTC Researcher, Tot Foster, describes her trip to see a lunchtime performance of the Project Zulu Choir at St George’s, accompanied by Tim Senior and CTC Co-Researcher, Miss Edwards.
Project Zulu are a group of young people aged from 8 to 15 from the Madadeni township in South Africa. Performing traditional Zulu songs and dances they are raising funds for their schools in KwaZulu-Natal, on a tour organised by UWE and their schools. Miss Edwards has been a co-researcher on Connecting Through Culture since late 2021 and has been open to new experiences. Knowing of her love of gospel music, her concern for young people’s welfare in Africa, and enjoyment of children singing what could be a more perfect opportunity to go to St Georges for the first time. Tim has been collaborating with a group of co-researchers and co-investigator Kirtsy Sedgman to develop a new evaluative tool for cultural experiences which he worked through with Miss Edwards whilst we were there.
We took our seats amongst an expectant, mainly white, older audience – the chief exec. of St Georges, Samir Savant, said this was the biggest audience for a lunchtime concert he’d seen. Miss Edwards was sat on her mobility scooter on the end of the row and I felt she was a little uncomfortable in this new-to-her space. But then a man in the row in front turned round and she recognised him from her social club and they said hi – I could feel Miss Edwards relax and then the show started. The stage was filled with young people in traditional dress singing powerful gospel – not the fast-paced energetic music I was expecting but haunting versions of songs which Miss Edwards knew. She moved her body and softly sang next to me. Miss Edwards caught my eye and nodded – a gift of her approval for what I had brought her to. I found myself emotional – the music and being there with Miss Edwards enjoying herself. The second half was much more lively with dancing – the young people kicking unbelievably high then stamping their feet down again to traditional folk songs and some remarkable solo singing. The young people’s energy, talents and innocence charmed the whole audience who gave a standing ovation when it was all over.
We went to the bar for a lemonade and a cup of tea afterwards to talk about the experience together and try out a new approach to ‘meaningful measurement’ that we’re developing at Connecting Through Culture. As part of our new approach, Mis Edwards had chosen the theme ‘Enjoyment’ before the concert as being most important to her. We then talked together about the significance of the experience for her and explored different ways of capturing that feeling using descriptive tokens (‘My spirits were lifted’, ‘That was just simply brilliant’) and what it might mean for her immediate future (‘Seeking more moments like this’, ‘Remember this feeling’). Rather than being an imposition on Miss Edwards, our new approach seemed to offer a quick and beneficial way to reflect on what we’d just experienced together.
The Project Zulu tour is now finished but you can find out more about the project by visiting www.projectzulu.org