Soul Sounds first came into prominence as the Holy Family Convent Senior Choir, when under the guidance of Soundarie David Rodrigo, its Music Director, it won a Carol Competition in 1996. The choir has grown from strength to strength over the years, with many memorable milestones. Soul Sounds was rewarded for its hard work when it participated in the Youth Choir category, at the International Eistedfodd Festival in Llangollen, Wales in 2004. The choir performed phenomenally, achieving 1st runners-up both in the Youth Choir category as well as in the Solo category where one of its choristers, Dinushka Jayawickrema was also placed. This was the first time a choir from Sri Lanka participated at an international competition.
About Soul Sounds
The birth of Soul Sounds
Wales was a defining moment for the choir, especially since many of the choristers were in the process of finalising their secondary education and leaving school. The members wanted to keep singing as an ensemble, instead of disbanding and going their separate ways. They decided to come together under the name Soul Sounds, with Soundarie as Music Director and Jerome de Silva as Artistic Director. While some members of the group were unable to continue, new members have since joined the group. The new identity as Soul Sounds was launched at its inaugural Christmas concert at the (then) Colombo Plaza, entitled Moods of Christmas on 18th December 2004. Moods of Christmas was increasingly popular, and now in its tenth year, is an annual event at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel.
Humanitarian Project for tsunami victims
The choir came together as one to work towards a project to raise funds for the victims of the devastating Asian tsunami of 26th December 2004. They were asked to perform for a single produced by Mike Read, and set about their task, lead by Soundarie and the team. A group of expatriates and friends from England served as the interface with the producer. Their effort beat all odds. The record was a major project in England, which raised millions for charity with the Sri Lankan choir Soul Sounds sharing the stage with Cliff Richard, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Russell Watson (the famed contemporary tenor), Robin and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, Steve Winwood, Boy George, Chicago and others. The record was released throughout Europe on January 24. The second CD, Soul of the Season was released for Christmas 2005. Since then they have released 3 other CD's one featuring repertoire from their Australian tour in 2006, the other from the US tour in 2010, and their most latest, Christmas favorites "At Christmas with love" in 2013.
World Choir Games, Xiamen, China (2006) and Graz, Austria (2008)
Being the trend setters in placing Sri Lanka on the international choral map, the choir has competed in many competitions since its first win at the Llangollen International Eistedfodd in Wales. The choir also competed at the 4th World Choir Games in 2006, winning 2 Silver Medals,
The medals were based on the points awarded by an international jury, in the Gospel & Spiritual and Scenic Folklore categories.
The choir's average age meant that it was among the youngest at this Choir Olympics, competing with more than 2000 choirs from 60 countries. The choir returned to compete in the 5th Games in Graz, Austria, in July 2008. They were delighted to surpass their previous performance by winning gold medals in all three categories, viz. Gospel and Spiritual Open, Open Popular Choral Music and Open Folklore in which they participated.
Soul Sounds is the only choir with many international concert tours to its credit.
- The choir performed for audiences in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne in February 2007, which marked their first international concert tour.
- The choir was invited to perform by the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait (April 2007).
With the support of H.E. Nirupama Rao, the former High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and China,and Former Foreign Secretary India, the choir has performed twice in Delhi. The first time was at the Bhakthi Utsav and the Vatican Chapel in 2006, and the second was at The South Asian Band Festival held at the Old Fort (Purana Qilla), in February 2009. The choir also performed in Delhi, on it's return from Austria after the World Choir Games in 2008.
- In April 2009, the girls were thrilled to visit the beautiful Normandy coast in Francewhere all their performances in churches were greeted with standing ovations.The choir performed to packed audiences performing 10 concerts in 8 days.
- In June 2009, the choir returned to China to perform at the prestigious Forbidden City concert hall in Beijing, performing once again with the Shillong Choir. This was part of an initiative to promote both Tourism in Sri Lanka and India and strengthen ties with China.
- The choir performed in New York (Manhattan) and Los Angeles in September / October 2010.
- Soon after, the Kuala Lumpur Cricket Club invited the choir for a performance at KLCC in October 2010.
- The second Australian tour took the choir back to Melbourne and Sydney in September 2011.
Soul Sounds is listed on British Choirs on the Net, under International Choirs, alongside numerous other award-winning choirs from around the world. The choir performs at many popular venues in Colombo, Soul Sounds has been gaining a name for itself not just in Sri Lanka but throughout the world. They have often been privileged guest performers at major functions of diplomatic missions in Colombo, winning high praise from many Ambassadors and High Commissioners. They were also asked to sing for Martin Luther King (Jnr) when he visited Sri Lanka in 2010, and have performed as Guest Artists at various functions. They have been honored to sing for Maestro Amaradeva, at a recently concluded concert at the BMICH in July 2014, as well as sing compositions of renowned composer Nimal Mendis at the same concert.The choir also excels in singing gospel music, having been trained in gospel singing by Prof Mark Wilson, its International Conductor, from UC Berkeley in California.
For these girls, singing is soul searching. Their goal is to constantly better their standards, while reaching out internationally to appeal to their growing fan base, with the aim of showcasing Sri Lankan talent to the world. This year the choir celebrates 10 years and have lined up many concert performances both in Sri Lanka and overseas to mark the occasion.