Sharon Katz opens Chestnut Hill’s Pastorious Park summer concert series

Sharon Katz & the Peacetrain really know how to get a crowd moving. The South-African musician and her band kicked off the 2012 Pastorius Park Summer Concerts series with such joyous rhythms, it was impossible to resist dancing to the music.

The free summer concert series is put on by the Chestnut Hill Community Association. Concerts will be held every Wednesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Pastorius Park through August 1 (no performance is scheduled for July 4).

Katz plays a fusion of traditional South African mbaqanga, maskanda and jazz. The audience enjoyed musical storytelling and upbeat lyrics celebrating the spirit of unity paired with guitar-driven danceable numbers. Crowd participation was not an option as both Katz and Peacetrain vocalist Wendy Quick led the approximately 300 gathered in swaying of outstretched arms, dance moves, and sing-a-longs in the Zulu language. Attendees were also treated to a special guest performance by Philadelphia jazz guitar legend, Monnette Sudler.

Katz, who is a Grammy nominated South African singer-guitarist, is best known for using her music as a tool for social change. In 1992, she organized a choir of 500 multiracial and multilingual voices in a performance, When Voices Meet – the first of its kind ever in South Africa. Katz and a 150 member children’s chorus formed the “Peace Train” in 1993 and toured by rail in support of Nelson Mandela, spreading a message of unification, democracy and peace the newly post-Apartheid South Africa. A film about the historic ride is being made to commemorate its 20 year anniversary.

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Toy Soldiers will play the next show in the Pastorius Park Summer Concerts series on June 20.

In the event of rain, the concert will be held at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, 8000 Cherokee street.

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