Usindiso (Redemption) is a South African television drama series created by Thandi Brewer that tells the story of two young female singers, one black and one white, using the backdrop of a gospel singing group and church in the inner city of Johannesburg.
The show was produced by Tunc Productions for SABC1. There are 13 half-hour episodes in the series.
Usindiso premiered on SABC1 on Tuesday 11 December 2007, at 20h30.
Brenda is black, 20-something singer of a jazzy gospel school. Gabriella is white, 17-ish rock chick with attitude. They’ve both been drawn into this world of music and miracles by Winston Langa - an ambitious, flawed dreamer and preacher, who backs his preaching with a gospel group, led by Brenda, his fiance.
They have astounding voices, but don’t grab the punters as they should because they lack a special spark. Enter Gabriella, the hard-drinking, rocking, smoking fallen angel of a girl who turns the failing group around.
Brenda is the better singer, but Gabriella has the "it" factor that makes someone a star.
The choir and church soar: they have TV shows, concerts, a huge following, fame, fortune, and record contracts. As with all success stories, this one involves compromise - a compromise between commercial and personal integrity.
Gabriella is turned into a sanitised media myth – and a major star. Fully aware that gospel has given her the fame that rock didn't, Gabriella plays along with this image for media and public consumption, but her personal and artistic frustration is rising. She’s trapped by the persona created around her and it’s driving her to self-destruction.
Brenda, desperately in love with Winston, unconditionally loyal, is increasingly sidelined. Winston has become an icon - a dangerous phenomenon, because he’s starting to believe in the message he is giving: the message of redemption, of small people having power over their own lives, the message of love which is leading Winston into political, personal and financial danger zones.
Themba, a 20-something documentary maker hired to do a behind-the-scenes video, sees a moment of truth behind the manufactured media spin, and is hooked into finding out more, hoping to expose Winston as the fraud and trickster he believes he is.
He falls for Brenda and her talent and has to make a choice: whether to expose the truth he thinks he’s uncovered via an unsuspecting Brenda, which will make him a star in his own field, but destroy Brenda - and the ministry and image of the man she loves, Winston.
As the girls battle for gospel stardom, against the backdrop of music and small miracles in a church in the inner city, personal tensions inside and political tensions outside the church grow and threaten to tear the group apart.
Usindiso combines the sounds of gospel music, with a story about love, the conflict between private and public personas, failure, betrayal, redemption and rock and roll.
Neo M. Matsunyane
Director of Photography