There is nothing more uplifting than listening to praise and worship songs from a different part of the world or even in a different language. That’s just the beauty in music. You don’t have to understand the words but the tempo simply places you in that mood to glorify God even more. This time we embark on a trip to sample some of the South African songs that have managed to cross borders and have become a force to reckon with when it comes to the gospel music. South African songs have been hailed from many parts of the world as being authentic and deep in the message.
Judging by the numbers of people who are currently hooked on the jams, it is safe to say that it has become a trend which has tremendously impacted the gospel scene worldwide. My first encounter with popular South African gospel songs dates back to the time when the Soweto Gospel Choir was ruling the airwaves with massive hits. This followed later when they bagged a Grammy Award. Immediately it swept off the entire continent and got us hooked. I don’t know how they blend the content, instruments, voice into a perfect cocktail that defines a true worship song.
Gospel musicians who are facing a conflict of content in the continent ought to emulate some of the greatest South African gospel songs and their success stories. The success of the current crop of artists owes it to Paul Simon who gave us Ladysmith Black Mambazo following his release of “Graceland”. Ever since, it has been a roller-coaster of emotions and the journey that has seen many saved souls. Gospel songs of South Africa have been a mighty force to reckon with in the music industry which draws both Christians and others in the secular world.
Popular South African gospel songs List
Over the years, we have seen the rise of many groups and a bunch of artists that have dominated the genre. As a tribute to those who laid the foundation for the current success of the genre in the industry, we have compiled a list of the top free South African gospel songs. The list features all South African gospel songs that have created a niche in the market and have managed to cross borders.
Top 10 South African Gospel Songs
Below is a list of the best South African gospel songs that were a huge hit.
1. Wahamba Nathi by Solly Mahlangu
Solly Mahlangu hails from Tembesia who began the ministry of administering through music a couple of years ago. His entry into the gospel scene in South Africa has revolutionized and shaped different dynamics. He has really put soul into his music and “Wahamba Nathi” means no less. When translated it means “Siyabonga Jesus” and is one the best South African gospel songs 2017. It is a thank you song that acknowledges the presence of God in our lives. He is a pastor by calling who has done a tremendous job in balancing his life in the ministry and in the music scene.
The song is a single off his album “Obrigado” which has acclaimed a lot of interest from the gospel fraternity across the world. This won him three awards at the 4th Crown Gospel Music Awards for Best Male Gospel Artist, Best Gospel Artist and Best Gospel Song. The song has managed to garner close to 5 million views on YouTube which is quite impressive. The video to the song is simple and features a live band performance in front of a live crowd. This is quite typical for most of his videos.
2. Lion of Judah by Lebo Sekgobela
Lebo Sekgobela has had a successful run in the gospel industry especially with the debut of her third studio album “Restored”. She had been in the music scene for sometime but this is the album that brought her to the limelight. Armed with a couple of other songs and live DVD’s, she has proven to be quite a powerhouse. “Lion of Judah” leads the list of current South African gospel songs, and it is another single off her successful album which saw her nominated for the highlight that would have solidified her career, Best Female Artist of the Year at the South African Music Awards. The song is a testimony of the one true God.
Originally the song was not to make the album, but during the live performance in the making of the DVD, she decided to perform it. If only she knew that the song would have blown up to become a necessity for every gospel lover out there. With every of her live performances, the fans can be seen chanting for the “Lion of Judah” to kick off the performance. The video has managed to amass more than 5 million views making it the most watched video in her catalog. The visuals are of a live performance in front of a lively congregation. She really puts her soul and energy in her performances thus making the song one of a kind.
3. This I Know (Ungizungezile) by We Will Worship feat. Khaya Mthetwa
We Will Worship became a household name especially after their debut video dubbed “Malibongwe” went viral in 2012 and claimed their current success. The group cemented their stay in the South African gospel scene with the release of their studio album “YHWH” two years later. The group offers a unique experience when it comes to worship as they mash up different genres into one. If you are an ardent follower of the group, then you will agree that “Mmuso” was one historic 24-hours, 18 track live experience that combined music, spoken word and poetry to form a beautiful piece of art.
This was the cover song in the album which starts off with a piece of spoken word that sets the mood of the whole album. It has an acoustic touch to it that just does magic with every drum beat and brings out the richness in the diversity of each member of the group. “This I Know” is a confirmation that we would never stop glorifying and worshiping God no matter what we go through. The rest of the album has other hit singles that really made it stand out such as “Ndia Livhua”, and “Like oil”. The single track lasts 8 minutes but in the time-span, it covers a whole lot of praise and worship. The video has over 2 million views and the numbers keep rising.
4. Our God is Awesome by Neville D feat. Khaya Mthethwa
The song comes after the success of the album “The Beauty of Difference” which really took the country by storm.
5. No Other God by Dr. Tumi
Dr. Tumi is a jack of all trades when it comes to music. He doubles up as a producer, songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist and a physician. He is capable of healing spiritually and physically. Dr. Tumi enjoyed a massive success especially from “The Gathering of the Worshippers”. “No other God” was preceded by the album “Heart of a King” which performed tremendously. The album landed him the Best from RnB Gospel Music Awards at the SABC Crown Gospel Music Awards back in 2012.
The single was off his album “Live and Grace” which has done tremendously well in terms of outreach and ministry. The chorus is pretty straightforward as it declares our love to God. It is an awesome to song that adores God. The chorus goes like “...we lay our lives before your throne...”. The song is gaining close to 4 million views on YouTube and has become a fan favorite. The video to the song like most of his other videos are live performances in front of a live congregation.
6. Many Rivers to Cross by Soweto Gospel Choir
The group is unarguably one of the most successful gospel groups in the entire continent. A Grammy award they bagged back in 2006 for the album “Blessed” is a testimony to the success of the group. They have enjoyed their widespread music globally owing to their unique sound and composition that has become an instant favorite for worshipers. The song is a blend of the traditional and urban sounds as well as other contemporary genres picked from different parts of the continent.
A special touch in the song that really makes it unique is the call and response singing.
The song “Many rivers to cross” comes off their album “Divine “Decade” which is a celebration of their 10 years in the gospel industry. The song paints the picture of their journey in the path to righteousness and the obstacles they have constantly faced. The trials and tribulations they have faced in life are mentioned in the song as well.
The song is a reminder that no matter what we are going through, God has a plan for each one of us. The song has seen its rise in popularity steadily to 300,000 views and receiving VEVO certification. The concept of the video is mind blowing with the women and men in traditional regalia all praising the Lord.
7. Wenzile by Joyous Celebration
The song when translated means “He has done”, which is a single from their album “All for you”. The award winning South African contemporary gospel choir group has always been an enigma since their debut. Their format and arrangement is always something that leaves many dazzled. They have done such a wonderful job to push their music across international borders. They are the great minds behind the series of albums from volume 1 to 18. The song, Wenzile, made the album stand out from the previous versions.
It is a praise and worship song that lauds God for all the great things he has done all the days of our lives as the intro begins. It decrees God hears our cries and lifts us from our troubles. He is also praised as the giver of blessings in life as the second verse is translated. The song is close to toppling the 1 million viewership mark on YouTube. The live performance of the video is spectacular and features a live band and congregation all in spirit praising the Lord.
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8. Spirit of praise 6 feat. Dumi Mkokstad – Ntate Kemang
The entire performance was recorded live at the “Carnival City’s Big Top Arena. This saw the fusion of great South African gospel musicians come together from the likes of Benjamin Dube, Neyi, Omega, Rofhiwa, Women in Praise, Dube Brothers and Winnie Mashaba. This is a common sight in a revolutionary gospel experience where all these great artists join their voices. They perform moving collection of fresh and rejuvenating praise and worship songs that shows the fusion of different genres into one major concert. The live recording is what makes the moment a truly glorious one with the existence of the many tracks that are treasured by all.
9. Loliwe by Zahara
“Loliwe” means train, it is the debut studio album of South African artist who doubles up as a songwriter and singer. The production of the album was handled by Robbie Malinga and Mojalefa Thebe. It also featured a legendary appearance by Georgyn Kanana. Upon three days after its release, the album sold over 20,000 copies and reached gold status. A month later the album had sold over 210, 000 copies in South Africa. It had a record-breaking moment becoming the second most fastest selling album in South Africa behind legendary Brenda Fassie’s “Memeza”.
The music video to the song was directed by Ash Dibben from the Hot Footage and produced by Mastermax Films.
The popularity of the album saw it win the Best Smooth Urban Music Album, Best Selling Album and Album of the Year during the 18th Annual South African Music Awards in 2012.
It is a comforting song that tells us to wipe those tears as the train to salvation is coming. Some of the writers of the album included Bulelwa Mkutukana and Georgyn Kanana. The song was received well across the continent. Ever since it has received massive spins on local radio stations and remains to be a classic.
10. Ndiza by Zahara
Off her fastest selling album in South Africa which went gold in barely a week, “Ndiza” means "I will come". It is a cry to God for most Christians who are trying to find their path back to righteousness.
"Ndiza" was well-received to become a common necessity in most praise and worship sessions from across the continent. It really elevated Zahara's status in the gospel scene as most of her fans have made alternative versions of the song with guitar versions.
Even though Africa is catching up with the rest of the world in terms of music, we have so much music as a continent to be proud of. Judging by the success of South African songs, it paints a ray of hope that someday our music will cross the borders. The success of groups such as Soweto Gospel Choir making it to the Billboard is a moment to take pride of as a continent. Most of the songs are available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube for South African gospel songs download. As a music industry, South African gospel scene has really set the pace for other industries in the continent to follow.
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