It seems fitting that after my post on The Beloved Country, I happened to be going to watch a show dedicated to her songs the same night. Prosound kindly invited me to join them at the Barnyard Theatre last night to watch Diamonds and Dust, and it was the perfect reminder of one favourite thing about my country that I forgot to mention yesterday…the sounds of South Africa.
If you are even remotely patriotic, then Diamonds and Dust will speak to your soul. The talented cast takes their audience on a finely crafted tour of South African music from the 1940’s until the present day. The message behind the name is that the songs of our nation are her diamonds, and heavy emphasis is placed on the nation-building potential of music. It is a message that was well-conveyed by the cast, and there is no doubt that by the end of the evening the audience was basking in a warm glow of national pride.
From kwela to kwaito, Diamonds and Dust offers us all the songs we associate with home. The sound of the pennywhistle is quintessentially South African and the rich harmonies of the cast back this up with images of smoky jazz clubs in Sophiatown and songs performed under vast African skies. The show is filled with the energy of a cast inspired – there is a real sense of joy in their performances and this makes it virtually impossible for the audience not to have a great time too. For me the most goosebump inducing moments were during a spectacular accapella medley of Shosholoza, Nkosi Sikelele and Weeping – these are the sounds of home.
My only complaint about the show would be that during the second half the cast seemed to have developed a rather urgent need to get to the end of things, and many of the songs in this half were performed at a breakneck pace which detracted from their impact. Nonetheless, it is a show that I would recommend to anyone with a love of the sounds of South Africa, or even anyone who is just looking for a feel-good night out.
Diamonds and Dust Song List
The Click Song
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Boy in a Bubble
Mamma Tembu’s Wedding
Under African Skies
Call Me Al
Diamonds on the Soles of My Shoes