The Sufi Gospel Project uses spiritual music of the Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths, blending them with Indian classical sounds. The stated belief is that “no matter what the language of the lyrics, or the ethnicity of the sounds, there is but one language, the language of faith, and that is the universal truth.”
The groups consists of four men and a female vocalist. On the night of the Johannesburg concert the female vocalist, Sonam Kalra, had had to return to her home in India because of the illness and death of her father. The others, Ahsan Ali (Sarangi), Alexio Salvador Fernandes (Keyboard), Aman Ali (Tabla) and Ritesh Prasanna (Flute), continued without her, but perhaps they were too sad at the news to really do well.
There were only two English (recognisable) Christian items, Amazing Grace, with which the concert commenced and Abide with me. The audience, mixed in terms of religious spread, Muslims, Hindus and Christian, responded very well to these as well as to what I assume to be some Muslim standards based on who in the audience responded most favourably to those numbers. I found large portions of the concert to be inaccessible rather than a general spiritual blessing and judging by the number of people playing on their phones I was not the only one.
The Sufi Gospel Project is part of the Shared History: The Indian Experience in South Africa, which is part of the Arts Alive Festival.