It came on like a distant rumble, or that faint tinkling of glass that sometimes wakes you up a split second before the ground starts shaking. Only this time, it wasn’t the earth moving, but the ether. It first became evident that something was up when, for no apparent reason, we began to receive an astonishing number of messages and new followers to our social media. A few hours later, the news broke. We’d gone viral!
Over the next few days, we watched in amazement as the YouTube video of our performance of Toto’s “Africa” racked up hundreds of thousands of views. The comments rolling in gave us a clue as to where it was coming from. After a long period of drought in South Africa, the rains had come at last, and people were sharing our video in celebration! We began to receive the most heartwarming messages from individuals who had been touched by our performance, which in turn was tremendously moving for us. Every day or two a whole new wave of messages from a different country washed into our Inboxes, as the viral effect made its way around the world. By the end of the week, we had new fans in South Africa, Italy, Spain, France, England, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Canada, and more.
And what a song! A massive hit worldwide when it came out in 1982, it has been covered by countless artists over the decades. When ACC was planning our 20th Anniversary reunion concert, all past and present members were polled on their favorite songs that we had ever done and “Africa” was high on the list. Our arrangement drew inspiration from Eric Whitacre and Perpetuum Jazzile, among many other artists, but the “rainstorm” effect is also something many of us remember from school or summer camp, and is as much fun to do live as it is to hear it! If there is any single factor that has gotten the most attention, it is our joy which the camera was able to capture. And that is by far the most gratifying thing about having gone viral – that the love and joy we all felt for each other at that moment has managed to reach others far and wide. This is a testament to the power of music, and we are humbled by it.
As of this writing, our video has almost 2,000,000 views. We are grateful to everyone who has watched, shared, and “liked” us, and we are moved by the kind words and personal stories from people who were touched by the music. By a stroke of luck before any of this happened, we had already selected the song for our own set when we go to England with Christopher Tin this summer. So we are thrilled to be able to tell our new fans in Europe, “YES! We will be performing ‘Africa’ on tour in July. We can’t WAIT!”