The Sunday Leader

Soul, Passion And Sound

It started with a dream — to showcase a group of talented singers to the world. Ambitious? Undoubtedly. Yet Soul Sounds is well on the way to fulfilling Music Director Soundarie David’s vision.
The group has traveled extensively, from France, to the UK, to Australia. And now they can add one more country to that list — the USA. Soul Sounds initially formed from the Holy Family Convent senior choir. They were placed first at a choir competition in Wales and decided to continue singing. Since then, they have won numerous accolades, including three Gold medals at the 2008 World Choir Games. This time, Soul Sounds performed in both New York and Los Angeles, at concerts organised by the Sri Lanka Medical Association of North America and the Sri Lanka Foundation respectively.

The group took the USA by storm with a varied repertoire — featuring gospel, folk, (the choir included a Sinhala folk section which the Sri Lankans particularly enjoyed) pop, jazz and an inspirational finale. In New York, Soul Sounds performed at the prestigious Asia Society at Park Avenue, to a packed audience. Renowned jazz artist Yolande Bavan also performed with the group. Then it was on to Los Angeles, and the Herbert Zipper Hall, a recital hall belonging to the Colburn School of Music. At both these venues, the group received standing ovations.
While in Los Angeles, the choir sang mass at the Abundant Harvest Christian Centre.  The parish here were distinctly moved by Soul Sound’s rendition of gospel music. In fact, group members described the experience as nothing short of miraculous. Finally, the group traveled to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. Despite the impressive performance schedule, the girls managed to sneak in a little sightseeing. The choir took in Times Square and watched the Broadway musical, the Lion King. Trips to Disneyworld and Seaworld were also squeezed in, not to mention a visit to Universal Studios in Los Angeles.

“The Soul Sounds tour of the US can be described in one word; Amazing!” said Dinushka Jayawickrema, one of Soul Sounds’ lead soloists. Dinushka spoke of the learning experience the choir gained, particularly through being able to watch two Broadway shows, not to mention all the positive feedback received from appreciative audiences. “Music cuts through all boundaries and its power has no limits,” said Dinushka on the general experience. Of course, it wasn’t an easy road to the Big Apple — Soul Sounds had to convince sponsors to cover airfare, no easy feat, even with the group’s impressive record. In addition, there is the constant need for balance — the members of Soul Sounds have school, work and family commitments to juggle.  One of the senior members, for instance, was only able to sing in New York, as she could not leave her two year old for such a long period of time. “I think in essence, it is the fact that we are all so passionate about what we do — so we strive to do our best, regardless of the obstacles that come our way,” Soundarie said, on how the group has stuck together over the years. This passion and love of music is apparent to anyone who hears them sing.  Luckily for those who love music, Soul Sounds is being given plenty of opportunities to show their talent. Shortly after their US trip, the group also had a concert in Kandy, and is currently preparing for a trip to Malaysia. In short, it’s full steam ahead for this talented group of singers!

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