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AFRICAN DEVOTED ARTISTS
African Devoted Artists started out in 1989 as a drama group, incorporating dance and music into their performances. In 1995 the group changed its focus to become a nine-piece marimba band. They infuse their performances with traditional Zulu dance and collaborate with gumboot dancers, pantsula dancers and youth, incorporating drama and dance into the act.
The band plays marimba, djembe drums, African drums and western drums. There are seven backing and two lead vocalists. They performed in Israel in 1995, in Germany in 1998, at a Festival in Sydney Australia in 1999, for a cultural exchange in Indonesia in 2001 and in the Seychelles for an Africa Festival the same year.
Amongst the numerous venues they have performed at the Sun City Super Bowl, The Market Theatre, Mabula Lodge, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Caesars Casino, The Parktonian and Sandton Sun. They have performed at corporate functions for Walter Sisulu’s Child Care Centre Anniversary, Ma-Africa Competition, the opening of the African Craft Market in Rosebank, Gauteng Provincial Legislature Youth Project, Old Mutual Marathon, Michael Mount Organic Market Launch, IDCS, and SATOUR.
In 2001 African Devoted Artists released their first album Buyela Khaya through Sheer Sound. In 2002 they won a South African Music Award for Best Instrumental Band.
The band is based at the Diepkloof Centre where they perform, rehearse and teach local youth acting, marimba, dance, poetry and story telling.
The African Jazz Pioneers
The African Jazz Pioneers have come a long way since the trying times endured during the apartheid era. When other South African bands disregarded the cultural boycott by touring apartheid-friendly venues, the international platform for the Pioneers became anti-apartheid events such as Culture in Another South Africa in Amsterdam.
The Jazz Pioneers released their first album in 1989 entitled “The Jazz Pioneers”, the second album called “Live in Montreaux” was released in 1991, the third “Sip ‘n fly” in 1993. “Shufflin’ Joe” the fourth album was released in 1995.
There are 10 members in the band with the fantastic lead vocalist Giant Molokomme, who joined the band in 1991. The line up comprises 3 saxophones, 2 trumpets, drums, keyboards, guitar and a bass guitarist.
The band’s musical styles are marabi mixed with American swing. Their most recent album is entitled Africa Vukani and was released late in 1999.
The band has toured Australia, Japan, France, and England. Holland, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Nigeria, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Swaziland.
Ayanda was born in Durban in a township called KwaMashu. She grew up with her mother, grandparents, brothers and lots of cousins. She is the 2nd generation of the famous Nokwe family. Ayanda’s career started when she was 12 years old. Her talent and dedication landed her international roles.
She did the voice over of young Simba in “The Lion King” (Zulu version); sung jingles for Fredd Woods; acted in the “Sarafina” movie as Sarafina’s young sister; sang and toured with Mango Groove to Portugal and Cape Town with her mom who has been backing vocalists for the band all her life; toured with Tu Nokwe and her band to Wales, Uganda and South Africa as a backing vocalist and dancer. Ayanda was also feautured in a compilation album called “Rights Africa” as new talent- she recorded 2 tracks written by John Layden from Mango Groove. Her greatest breakthrough as a young developing artist was when she recorded with other respected artists and musicians the theme song of e-T.V.
If you want to find Ayanda, you will most definitely find her engaged in Social responsible programs and community voluntary work which she does with other students from an arts school called “Amajika Youth and Children Arts”. Amajika is a school that was founded by Ayanda’s family in the hope to target youth who have been disturbed during the uprisings of June 16, 1976. The aim of this arts school is to support young children and youth to break free in a positive way and use their talents productively and responsibly. Ayanda grew up in this school, starting of as a student, to choreographer, to co-ordinator and now training as Artistic director and Human Resources manager. Amajika taught Ayanda to ground herself spiritually and take each day as it comes as a new, much positive beginning. She toured with Amajika to Italy and U.S.A to represent the Zulu Culture through dance, music and poetry.
Ayanda recently shook South African fans and media as a controversial, intelligent and fascinating contestant in the program “IDOLS” and made it to the top 6 out of over 8000 applications.
Ayanda believes that assertiveness, seeking knowledge and wisdom from family and advisors is what made her who she is. “Being assertive doesn’t mean being arrogant. You
Must know who you are and what you are for. That makes you an assertive person.
When tings get hectic and chaotic, go in and calm down. But the ultimate is to STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF!”
Producer, director, compose and singer Caiphus Semenya is one of South Africa most highly regarded talents both locally and abroad. He has written music scores for several television series and has recorded, produced and written music for several artists. Caiphus went into exile in the 1960’s with his wife, singer Letta Mbulu, in the USA he worked with Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa, and Miriam Makeba as well as with top American artists and producers. His compositions were performed by Cannonball Adderley, Harry Belafonte, The Crusaders, Lou Rawls, and Nina Simone, amongst others.
Caiphus composed the African music for Alex Hayley’s Roots I and Roots II. On numerous occasions he collaborated in musical projects with long time friend Quincy Jones. Caiphus composed several tracks on Quincy Jones’ album Back on the Block as well as the melody for the title track, which received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1995, he also composed music for the Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones’ film Colour Purple.
Caiphus performed in and arranged the famous production BUWA, which toured Africa and Europe in the 80’s. In 1989 Caiphus directed the South African component of the Wembley Stadium Nelson Mandela Tribute concert. He returned from exile in 1990, and in 1991 headlined the Unity concert at FNB Stadium. South Africans know Caiphus for his performances with Letta Mbulu. He has performed at the Africa Night at Montreux Jazz Festival, a sold out series at Sun City, and numerous open-air concerts. In 1995 he released Woman’s Got a Right to Be.
He is referred to as “the singing Tarzan” and the boertjie who revived Afrikaans hits with his own Zulu lyrics and arrangements. His CD releases Mercy and Op Aanvraag both topped the charts for many months. Op Aanvraag has sold over 80 000 copies to date.
Dozi’s hits Ou Ryperd and Tussen Jou en My are popular with audiences who often join him in song at his many countrywide performances. Dozi’s latest release Storm op die Horison has already reached gold status with sales of 25 000 and the hits Squeeze My, Tussen Die Lyne and Bietjie Brood amongst others have resulted in his becoming one of the most popular artists in the country. The two metre Boere-Zulu is here to stay
Jeff Maluleke, previously known as Papa Jeff became interested in music while still at school. He was joined in his passion by fellow school-mate Pat Dubazane who with whom he later became a song-writing team and formed the group Hagonya.
Jeff was a backing vocalist for Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels and he and Dr Victor wrote the track I Miss Your Love, released on the album One Goal, One Wish. Jeff met Arthur Mafokate with whom he recorded Papa Jeff, which reached Gold and sold over 30 000 units. Jeff and Pat Dubazane formed Hagonya and released an album. They were chosen as the support act for Jackson Browne on his tour to South Africa. On the last night of their tour, they joined Jackson on stage performing two of his tracks with him.
In 1997 Hagonya was nominated Best Group for a South African Music Award. In 1998 Jeff recorded Dzovo, a solo album with producer Thapelo Khomo. The album is a combination of African and Western influences drawing on the inspirations of mbqanga, kwasa kwasa, Tracy Chapman, Paul Simon, George Michael and funky samba beats. The lyrics are in English, Zulu and Tsonga. Jeff continues to perform at prestigious events such as the Standard Bank Jazz Festivals. He released the album Juliana in 2000, for which he received a 2001 Best Producer South African Music Award.
Described as a South African musical treasure, Joe Nina has worked successfully as a producer, songwriter, performer and actor. His music is a blend of cutting-edge grooves and African beats over which his vocals create a rich and textured sound.
Joe’s parents were both musicians for bands during Sophiatown’s heydays. From the age of three he accompanied them on gigs and at the age of 16, left his school to pursue a career in music. In 1991, when he was 17, Joe began formal training as a sound engineer. He made demo tapes and teamed up with Arthur Mafokate to write the song Com Com, which won the Coca Cola Full Blast Talent Search. He has written for and worked with some of South Africa’s greatest artists including Brenda Fassie, Ray Phiri, Mara Louw and Hugh Masekela.
Joe established the record company Killar Joe Productions with Ray Phiri when he was chosen to write the soundtrack for the Channel 4 film Jump the Gun. He worked on Q Zoo’s forthcoming CD, remixed Uthando Lwami off Lebo M’s album
Deeper Meaning and produced the African Jazz Pioneer’s latest album. Joe Nina performed with Selaelo Selota, Judith Sephuma, Lebo Mathosa and George
Sax and the Funk 4 at Jazz on the Lake in 2000.
Jonas Gwangwa is one of the most accomplished and versatile South African jazz musicians and has thrilled audiences around the world with his artistry as a trombonist/composer and all around creative genius. For over 30 years, he traversed the world as an exile, collecting accolades at every stop along the way. A product of the turbulent but musically significant 1950’s, Gwangwa came from Soweto and electrified the Sophiatown music scene until it became illegal for Blacks to congregate and South African musicians were jailed for performing. Nevertheless, he blazed a fiery path in South Africa by playing with virtually every important band of the era, including the Jazz Epistles, a group that included icons Kippie Moeketsi, Abdullah Ibrahim, Johnny Gertse and Makhaya Ntshoko.
In 1961, Gwangwa toured England with the hit musical King Kong. He then went to the United States where he resided for 15 years and studied at New York’s prestigious Manhattan School of Music. Gwangwa earned his “break” through music legend Harry Belafonte who over the years has been a staunch supporter of both the ANC and Gwangwa’s personal career. Gwangwa has been a compatriot of Ahmad Jamal, Herb Alpert and contemporaries Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, and Caiphus Semenya.
His commitment to the struggle to end apartheid has always been intrinsic to his music. He narrowly escaped death in 1985 when his home was blown up by South African security forces. (Several of his close friends were killed.) Gwangwa’s lifework crystallised when he composed, arranged and was musical director of Amandla, the much-heralded worldwide ANC cultural ensemble tour to which he devoted ten years of his life.
A prolific composer, Gwangwa joined forces with George Fenton to create the original score and theme song for the Richard Attenborough film, Cry Freedom. The score achieved Oscar, Grammy, Bafta, Golden Globe and Anthony Asquith award nominations and won Ivor Novello and Black Emmy Awards. He returned to South Africa in 1991 and in 1994, his life long dream of freedom was realised when Nelson Mandela was elected president of a democratic new South Africa.
In their sixth anniversary, the Joyous Celebration collective is going as strong as ever. They have released their sixth album, Joyous Celebration 6. The album comprises loving interpretations of existing spirituals, traditional hymns and original compositions, all produced by the magical combination of Lindelani Mkhize and Mthunzi Namba. After their successful sold out shows in Johannesburg, East London and Durban, Joyous Celebration thrilled audiences at the Artscape Opera House (formerly the Nico Opera House) in Cape Town in June 2002. The Joyous Celebration 7 CD will be recorded there live, for two years running. The performance boasts a new cast of fresh, raw talent from all around the country and the result is an exciting combination of freshness and familiarity – novices and seasoned veterans, exactly what has made Joyous Celebration so distinctive.
The 32-strong member choir comprises of an eight-piece band, six dancers and ‘veterans’ Mthunzi Namba, Jabu Hlongwane, Vuyo Mokoena and Margaret Motsage. Joyous Celebration was founded by Lindelani Mkhize, Mthunzi Namba and Jabu Hlongwane. The group revives and celebrates the spiritual music that has inspired and strengthened our nation and, showcases the talents of new musicians, providing a platform for them to launch their careers. Margaret Motsage, Vicky Vilakazi, Concord Nkabinde, Nokukhanya Dlamini and Ernie Smith were all once members.
Joyous Celebration sees their role as being a vehicle to assist those who have experienced the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS. The group donates 15% of their takings to an aids related charity. They have been recognized for their outstanding contribution to the South African music industry and were awarded Best Contemporary Gospel Group at the 2002 South African Music Awards.
Kai Kai was born in Lubumbashi in Zaire (then known as the Belgian Congo) in 1946. He started singing in the catholic Church in the township of Kenya when he was seven years old.
At age seventeen he had to relocate with his family to another province as a result of the political turmoil. There again he developed his singing skills in a Catholic Church.
In 1996 he joined his first band, “ORI JAZZ”, when he was twenty two years old. By now he had already had some twelve original compositions which were well known and liked by the people. “ORI JAZZ” welcomed him, his songs and fresh ideas and vitality. The older singer however, fearing competition, relegated him to playing a minor role in the band. As the band became more popular Kai Kai became more disillusioned. After a few months he quit and concentrated on developing his skills further, outside of live performances. He returned to his parents. During this time he also started playing the trumpet.
At age 28 in 1974, Kai Kai felt the time was right to perform once more. He approached a popular Zairian singer, Baba Gaston, asking to join his band. Within a few months Baba Gaston and his band became more popular with Kai Kai’s contribution. They recorded an album in Nairobi in Kenya, which created a buzz all over central, and Eastern Africa. In the meanwhile, the band became dissatisfied with the way Baba Gaston was handling their money affairs. They split from their leader to form a new band “MANGELEPA” which boosted a line-up consisting of 2 guitars, bass guitar, drums, saxophone, 2 trumpets and trombone. Kai Kai was on lead vocals and trumpet. Very soon this band became extremely popular. In 1978 they recorded an album titled “Nyako Konya” (a Kenyan dialect meaning”give me strength”) which sold well in countries like Zaire, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and even as far afield as Japan. In 1980 they received a gold disc from Polygram records for sales in excess of 65 000 units. In 1982 Kai Kai had to leave the band in Zambia to attend to family matters back home in Lubumbashi.
With political upheavals exacting its toll on the county in 1994, Kai Kai decide to head to South Africa. It was also time for change in his musical career. In Johannesburg he formed a band which immediately created a stir, as a result of the optimism pervading the country after its newly acquired freedom and democracy. South Africans, after years of isolation from the rest of Africa, were opening their ears to true African sounds emanating from Kai Kai.
In 1996 he was approached by Greg Francis (a former OZILA band member) to partake in recordings. The two of them immediately clicked. Greg had exhausted his efforts in trying to find South African singer who could express themselves musically in an African rather than an American or European genre. Their collaborative efforts have yielded “Thank you Madiba”.
KOPANO (UNITY) QUARTET
The Kopano (Unity) Quartet comprises of a group of outstanding musicians operating under the title The Function Collective, which offers a variety of entertainment solutions across a wide spectrum of musical genres and technical requirements. The various musicians represent some of the best players in the Johannesburg area, with the outfits headed by jazz, classical and rock guitarist Jonathan Crossley. The Kopano (Unity) Quartet features Jonathan Crossley on guitars, Sydney Mnisi on saxophones, Marc Duby on bass and Godfrey Mgcina on drums. The band is exceptionally well rehearsed and has been working as a fixed unit for a number of years. They have worked for a large number of corporate clients such as Dimention Data, Nedbank, Avon, Toyota, Alan & Alan, Gerling and Standard Bank to name a few.
Venues regularly performed at include Keystone, Fairlawns, Gallagher Estate, Helderkruin, La Habana Café, Summerplace, The Palace – Sun City and The Castle amongst others. The collective only uses top class musicians from the different genres represented, such as Avzal Ishmail on piano, The O & R Sessions DJ’s, Concord Nkabinde on bass, Godfrey Mgcina on drums, Herbie Tsoeli on bass, Iliska Crossley on Piano, Johnny Fourie on guitar, Jonathan Crossley on guitar, Marc Duby on bass, Neill Ettridge on drums and Sydney Mnisi on saxophone and Marcus Wyatt on trumpet. They can also perform as a Quintet adding a female/ or male voice to their sound.
Kapa Dech was formed in April 1996 in Maputo. A year after its formation, the band conquered a relevant place in the Mozambican musical arena due to its original lyrics and rhythms, a fusion of modern and traditional sounds. Their first album, Katcume, was recorded in January 1998 in Paris, France and achieved silver status in Mozambique. It was released on the TV show Live Africa in Dival du Monde.
In October 1998 Kapa Dech participated in the Verden Norden festival, which hosted musicians Baba Maal, Angelique Kidjo and Ray Phiri to name a few. In 1999 they toured Mozambique for the civic education campaign’s second general elections. They performed alongside Jonas Gwangwa and Tsepo Tsola during the Mozambique-South Africa friendship week at the SABC concert and have shared the stage with, amongst others, Brenda Fassie, Mory Kante and Caiphus Semenya.
Their awards include the Music Crossroads festival prize for Best Band in the southern African region, which they won in Harare (Zimbabwe) in 1997. Kapa Dech toured Sweden and in December 1998 was voted Personality of the Year in the culture category by the leading newspaper in Mozambique. In 2000 they won the Ngoma Prize in Mozambique for the Best Band of the year.
LADYSMITH AXE CHOIR
The Ladysmith Axe Choir has been performing together for over 15 years. Their range of styles include mbube, gospel and Tip-Top dance.
Amongst the numerous clients for whom they have performed are Standard Bank Finance, BMW, Q-Data Consulting, the Barney Molokoane Trust – for the Premier’s Birthday Function, Group Africa Directors, Fourth International Spinal Conference, Society of Cosmetic Chemists International Conference, Citibank Year End Function, the Institute of Water Affairs and Boehringer Ingelheim.
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO
Ladysmith Black Mambazo are South Africa’s foremost proponents of the Iscathamiya style of singing and are one of the country’s premier cultural exports, known almost all over the world.
The ten-piece group was formed by leader Joseph Shabalala and is made up of several of his family members. Their first recording was made in the early 1970’s and to date they have recorded over forty albums.
They are most famous for their collaboration with Paul Simon on his Graceland album and world tour in 1986.
Singer, songwriter and actress Letta Mbulu grew up in Soweto where she was influenced by traditional and contemporary urban South African music. As a teenager she joined the cast of the hit musical King Kong, which toured England and soon after she went into exile in the USA where she performed at the Village Gate in New York City to critical acclaim. Letta was noticed by and invited to tour with the late, great saxophonist, Cannonball Adderley and met Harry Belafonte with whom she performed on several world tours.
She sang much of the music for the series Roots Part I and II for which she won an Emmy Award and a Gold record, she also sang on a track for Michael Jackson’s Bad album. All of Letta’s solo albums have gone Platinum and her 1992 release Not Yet Uhuru was her first album recorded back from Exile in South Africa. It was arranged, produced and composed by her husband, musician Caiphus Semenya whom she married while in exile in the USA. Caiphus and Letta performed together for the first time in South Africa in the Unity ’91 Festival.
Her acting credits include A Warm December with Sidney Poitier and Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones’ The Colour Purple. She has narrated a documentary film on the role of women in South Africa entitled You Struck A Rock and has acted on local television dramas. In 1987 Letta played a lead role alongside Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and other famous South African musicians in the musical Buwa by Caiphus Semenya, touring Africa. Letta’s powerful stage presence and stunning vocal range, coupled with the hope so central to her lyrics, makes her one of South Africa’s most outstanding artists.
Peki Emelia Nothembi Mkhwebane was born in Carolina near Swaziland in Mpumalanga on 1st January 1953. She grew up loving music especially Ndebele music.
Her Parents died while she was five years old and left with her grand parents. Nothembi didn’t not go to school because her grand parents could not afford school fees, therefor during the day she would look after her grand father’s cattle and sheep.
Nothembi was born in a family of music her grand mother taught her to play a reed flute, her sister taught her to play isikumero. Later, her uncle took her to the fields to help with ploughing and during lunch time her Uncle will teach her to play guitar that was made out of an oil tin.
Nothembi learned a lot about the Ndebele culture. She started a musical group called Izelamani zakoNomazlyana. They played at cultural gatherings and weddings.
She bought a keyboard and guitar to compose songs, and then she recorded all the songs she has composed. The problem was finding a record company because she didn’t know where to start and when she found it she couldn’t read or write and for her signature she signed with an “x” and because of her illiteracy she was robed of her money by record company, that is no longer a problem she is back at school she is in std 9 and she would like to get a degree in music.
Nothembi is well known all over the world in 1988 she performed in New York and London and received an award for the Best Ndebele Song.
Nothembi has recorded many albums over the years:
1984 first album called INTABA AZIHLANGANI
1985 second album called IHLOPHEKAZI
1987 third album called IPHASI LEKHETHU
1993 fourth album called KWAZAM-ZAM
1995 fifth album called VUKANI BOMMA
1998 sixth album called ZIMAMI BALIBALELE
2000 seventh album called SHILANGANI’SIZIZWE her duo with Phuzekhemisi
2001 eighth album called AKANAMANDL’U USATHANA
Nothembi has traveled abroad performing in countries like America, Washington, New York, London, Austria, Germany (vienna) Portugal, Australia (Sydney), and France (Paris).
Awards Nothembi has Won
Woza Africa Foundation Award (USA) in 1988
Femina/NNTV Woman of the 90’s 1995
Tourism Ambassador for South Africa in 1998
Mpumalanga, Sports, Recreational Arts and Culture and Heritage Award Professional Music in 1999.
South African Music Award: Honorary Award: BestNdebele music Ikwekwezi FM in 1999.
Bow and Arrow (Best Tourist Ambassador for the month) in 2001.
The enormously talented Phuzekhemisi’s lyrics are infused with commentary and political outspokenness over issues that plague his fellow KwaZulu Natal dwellers. He is one of the very few musicians from KwaZulu Natal to draw attention to the battles facing those living in the largely under feudal system of tribal chieftainship and hostel leadership.
Phuzekhemisi is a singer, guitarist and dancer. He released his first album Imbizo, with his brother Khetani and it sold over 100 000 copies. Although their music was isiZulu, their appeal was wide spread. The title track, also Imbizo, became a feature at street bashes and music festivals but tribal chiefs and hostel leaders took offense to being criticized in the song. Their second release, Emaphalamende, featured the popular track Udlayedwa, which also offended tribal and hostel leaders. In 1993, soon after the release of the album, Khetani was killed in a car accident.
Phuzekhemisi took a long pause before he released the hugely successful albums Impimpi, Ngo 49, Izwa Alithuthuki, Phansi Imikhonto and his latest Izinhlangano. Izinhlangano is in the same vein as his previous albums, it comments on social issues, the title track being a plea for political organisations to unite. Phuzekhemisi has worked with fellow maskanda stars Hash’limhlope
and Mfaz’Omnyama to release the album Sxaxa Mbitji, a project closely
linked to road safety issues and sparked by one of his hit songs that criticised provincial traffic officers. He has won over audiences in France, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden and Finland.
Pops Mohamed is at the helm of the current world music movement. He experiments with global sounds and digital electronica to create a fusion of tradition and modern technology. Pops successfully combines a deep-rooted African sound with contemporary instruments and electronics. His accessible sound is blend of indigenous music with a dance base.
Pops Mohamed Meets The London Sound Collective was released in August 2000 and is a collaboration with the underground drum ‘n bass outfit LSC. It is a fusion of East London urban sounds with indigenous instrumentals, which brings traditional music into the sphere of modern dance music. Pops was involved in recording the raw sounds of the San Bushmen on The Bushmen of the Kalahari CD, released in August 2000 as the result of his visit to the Kalahari in 1995. Some of the recordings provided the backbone of Pops’ acclaimed album How Far Have We Come?
The albums Kalamazoo, 1992 and Sophiatown, 1993 were both nominated Best Jazz Album in South Africa’s OKTV Awards. Pops produced the late Moses Molelekwa’s award winning album Finding Ones Self, in 1996. He has toured all over the world both as a producer of indigenous music and as a performer.
Cape Town born Ringo Madlingozi is emerging as one of South Africa’s best live performing acts. His second solo album Sondelani is enjoying major
airplay in Southern Africa.
Ringo has worked as a session musician for radio, film, commercials and albums and has performed with many bands. His prolific career includes having recorded with Hugh Masekela, Simply Red, Teddy Pendergrass and Caiphus Semenya and for The Lion King movie. He was a support act for Papa Wemba’s South African tour in 1996.
While still at school, Ringo led an a’capella group that performed at community functions. He was the lead vocalist for the bands Ikwezi and Peto. In 1986, Peto won the national Shell Road to Fame talent competition, giving them national exposure on television and leading to several touring acts including a support act for the King’s Trust concert in Swaziland headlined by Eric Clapton.
In the early 1990’s Peto disbanded and Ringo relocated to Johannesburg where he joined the band Gecko Moon. His first solo album Vukani was released in 1996. His second album, Sondelani, released in 1997, contained the themes of reconciliation and national unity. The album achieved Double Platinum, several music awards, and major airplay. Ringo is highly sought after on the performing circuit in South Africa.
Guitarist, singer and composer Selaelo Selota’s music style is influenced by the traditional singing and dancing of the gold mine’s migrant workers amongst whom he lived, the Pedi melodies with which he grew up and the jazz he heard at Kippie’s Jazz Club where he was a cleaner.
He performed with the famous Ghanaian George Lee and Anansi and in 1995 Selaelo formed Meropa who appeared on the Grahamstown Arts Festival Fringe. In 1996 he formed Taola who played at the UCT Jazz Festival in Cape Town and at the Fin de Siecle Music Festival in Nantes, France to standing ovations. He was spotted by the managing director of the North Sea Jazz Festival who invited him to perform the following year. Selaelo also performed at the Brussels Jazz Festival that same year.
Selaelo studied and taught jazz guitar at the FUBA Academy and the University of Cape Town’s College of Music. He regularly features as a soloist and is a composer and a session musician. He won second place in the Adcock Ingram Music Competition in 1996 and in 1997 came first in the Jazz category. In March 1999 Selaelo won the Instrumental Category of the Old Mutual Jazz into the Future Talent Search Competition.
The Soweto String Quartet
The Soweto String Quartet is a musical explosion of four Africans playing eighteenth century musical instruments, but with the rich pulse of Africa flowing through their veins and into their music.
Their music comprises works both contemporary and traditional, some original and some borrowed from Africa’s rich treasure house of melody. The Soweto String Quartet’s qualifications are impeccable, and they portray the timeless spirit of Africa.
The Soweto String Quartet became a full-time professional outfit in 1992, the time when South Africa was in the throes of dramatic change. Sandile on how the changes affected the band: “The elections in 1994 turned everything around for us. Our first really important gig was actually at President Mandela’s inauguration. That was very emotional, but it was also the turning point for our career. The President even started recommending us for all sorts of other jobs”.
The Soweto String Quartet have recorded two previous albums for BMG Africa – Zebra Crossing in 1994 and Renaissance in 1996. Both were a huge success. And like Millennia, the albums showcase the bands unique blend of traditional rhythms, Township Jazz, Pop songs, Jazz Fusion, and of course, strong Classical influences. The songs are arranged in the band’s unique and vibrant fashion – a true celebration of the resilient township spirit.
The last few years have seen the band play all around the world as music ambassadors for the New South Africa. But their home will always be in Soweto as Sandile explains: “We belong to the people. And there are a lot of people coming through studying these instruments and taking an interest. They don’t think we are quite so crazy anymore”.
Soweto String Quartet, comprising the three Khemese brothers and friend, Makhosini Mnguni, grew out of a Khemese family musical conspiracy. The Khemese children had no choice but to flourish in their artistry, in spite of the political oppression that held them down. Sons of a virtuoso conductor father and choral singer mother, Sandile and Reuben were naturally drawn into their uncle’s township music school. There they soon switched from choral singing to playing violins for the Soweto Symphony Orchestra.
Between 1980 and 1986, Sandile pursued a music scholarship in England, which included four years at the Royal North College of Music in Manchester, after which he returned to the township to teach his brothers everything he had learned. He was able to obtain a job teaching the traditional African marimba instrument at the Madimba School of Music. After three years of sacrificing his violin playing, Sandile, his brothers and Makhosini decided it was time to regroup. For ten years, the Quartet weathered the criticisms of peers who taunted them for playing “funny European instruments”.
“Our agenda included encouraging the youth to master these so-called Eurocentric instruments,” says Sandile, “as well as improving the standard and appreciation of classical music in the townships.”
Since then, and since the miraculous birth of true democracy in their native South Africa, the Quartet has intensified its experimental intermixing of musical styles and instrumentation-bringing guitars, keyboards and percussion into a musical exploration of the inner dimensions of their cross-cultural experience. With an eclectic mix of African rhythms and intonations, Soweto String Quartet presents an aesthetic landscape that knows no cultural, temporal or geographical barriers.
Sibongile Khumalo is a talented singer whose diversity is noted in her ability to be at home within different musical genres. Her music professor father’s multi-disciplined approach to her education, allowed for Sibongile’s exploration of a variety of musical genres.
Sibongile has had many sold-out performances, notably The Three Faces of Sibongile Khumalo, 1992, which earned her the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1993. Her operatic debut was as Carmen at the Royal Albert Hall in London in a concert honouring Nelson Mandela. She has performed with opera diva Aviva Pelham and in Handel’s Messiah with the late Lord Yehudi Menuhin. In 2001, she performed with Hugh Masekela for his MAAPSA benefit concert.
Her first album was released in 1996, Ancient Evenings, it won both Best Female Vocal Performance and Best Adult Contemporary Performance at the FNB South African Music Awards. In 1998 Sibongile released her second album, a live recording of a performance, Live at the Market Theatre. The album won Sibongile Best Adult Contemporary Performance, an FNB South African Music Award for it. Immortal Secrets was released in 2000. In 1999, Sibongile was awarded an FNB Vita Award for Best Musical Performance of the Year for her collaboration with sopranos Aviva Pelham and Virginia Davids in Divine Divas. She was hailed for her FNB Vita Award winning performance in the World premier of Buchuland and her Women of Africa tour of Europe with fellow African singers.
Sibongile Khumalo’s strong sense of self and culture make her the embodiment of South Africa in all its diversity. Her prestigious awards and overseas and local performances attest to her professionalism and popularity.
Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse
Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse was born in Johannesburg on 2 November 1951. He took to music by playing drums at the age of eight and went on to form a band with school mates in high school. The band was first as “The Beaters”, which went on to achieve fame under the name of “Harare”. He started performing as a professional musician at the age of fifteen.
During his musical career spanning over 28 years, Hotstix has performed in virtually every country in Southern Africa, has toured and performed in the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, German and Italy.
He has also recorded and produced for, amongst others, Mirriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri and Sibongile Khumalo, in addition, he has also written and performed on the institute of Human Rights Education Oratorio.
After close to ten years of silence, leading South African musician Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse has released a new album entitled “Township Child”. This album will be launched to a select group of journalists, celebrities and music retailers during a private listening later this month.
Explaining why it took so long to come up with a follow-up to “Burnout”, which sold over 500-00 copies in the early 80’s Sipho says:” After 28 years in the music industry, one is always mindful of trends, one had to outgrow certain types of music industry, and I needed this break to ponder on my musical direction”.
“This I was able to achieve because I enabled myself to learn from other people, not being judgmental about what other people were doing in music and playing different roles in other things like the organisation of the musicians association and other developmental work”.
“I still regard myself as a pop musician, but of different kind. You must bear in mind that South Africa has no defined mainstream pop because of our history as as a nation. This album attempts also to assert a particular style of South African pop music.
“I am very excited about this album. In a way it is an articulation of my aspiration in music”, says Sipho. “The fact that I have a profile in both the music industry and in the community meant that I had to make music that would sustain my credibility beyond the domain of the artist. Hence the strong social and political statements apparent in the music”.
Township Child contains 14 tracks in all and took more than a year to produce. It showcase a variety of musical style like dance, reggae, jazz, mbaqanga, kwela and gospel amongst others. Among the artists featuring on this album are Ray Phiri, Victor Masondo, Stompie Manana, Khaya Mahlangu, Umfaz’ Omnyama, Ringo Madlingozi and a new and exciting group called blood.
“I wrote all the tracks on this album, and precluded it myself because I knew what I wanted. It was and added bonus for me to rope in seasoned musicians like Khaya Mahlangu and Victor Masondo because these guys can play anything and still bring their magic touch to the finished product”, he enthuses.
On the broad range of musical styles he says: “it is always easy to play bubblegum music, but could I really call myself a serious musician, especially after so many years in the industry?” “I’ve tried to give as much of my talent as possible. I do not want to pigeon-hole myself. I want to be a total musician in the mould of Phil Collins, Sting and Al Jarreau etc.
“Another case in point is the reggae piece Suite June 16. This song reflects on a particular period in our history books. I looked for musical style that would best encapsulate that reflections. Reggae was the appropriate style in this regard because it also reflects on the tribulations of the Jamaican people and seeks to emancipate them through lyrics like: “Get up, Stand up”, “Equal Rights, and so on. This is also found in our music”. Another reason is that the South African market can influence an artist’s musical direction. One must remember that the music industry is a business, sales keep it going. It is also a reflection of what society is about. My favourite track on this album is Enchanted Garden. It is romanticized rendition of my love for nature and the environment. It is a very special to me”. “Another special track is Rainbow Nation, which reflects on what we’re trying to achieve in this country, where we’re from etc. It is a very positive song”.
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa
Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa Jazz singer, Sylvia Ncediwe Mdunyelwa, who hails from Langa, is also a professional freelance actor (TV plays, radio voice-overs, advertisement jingles) and has also managed to fit in a busy performance schedule over the past two decades.
Sylvia started singing in the 70’s when she joined Victor Ntoni’s sextet, and has gone on to perform with a host of Capetonian musicians including Merton Barrow, Winston Mankunku, Nick Carter, and Duke & Ezra Ngcukana.
After taking a group of young aspiring musicians to the International Children’s Jazz Festival in Canada during 1990, Sylvia returned to win a scholarship from the Educational Opportunities Council and studied music for six months at UCLA. The experience led her to experience a wealth of different cultures and she attended classes with many American musicians (including Kenny Burrell), in addition to using the experience to brush up on her history of music and theatre.
According to Sylvia, going to the USA “gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills, which I hope I have and will continue to channel back into the community. I’ve always been something of a community worker, helping others with achieving their dreams”.
Since her studies in the US, Sylvia has been invited to tour Germany and performed at the Berlin Festival in 1994. She was also part of a cultural exchange programme in 1997, that allowed her to travel and perform in Bogota, South America. Sylvia’s current small screen appearances include being part of a BBC production on the life of Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Currently, Sylvia is concentrating all her energies, when not performing, into establishing a school of jazz in the South African township, Langa. Every Sunday, Sylvia presents her own programme, Voice of Jazz, on Cape Town radio station, P4 Radio, and also a member on the board of Fine Music Radio, a classical jazz station. Sylvia also runs her own TV and Film Production house.
In 1998, Sylvia’s live performance at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown was recorded, and subsequently released as ‘African Diva, Live in Africa’.
NCEDIWE REPERTOIRE LIST
Nearess of you
All of me
Stormy weather (in Xhosa)
Let’s fall in love
Like someone in love
Where are the children
Themba Mkhize is a composer, arranger, performer and producer who began his career studying classical piano when he was seven years old. He joined his first band Sakhile in 1981 and since then he has been a member of Bayete and Hugh Masekela’s band.
Themba was made musical director on Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela’s 1994 USA and Europe tour. He has worked alongside big names Jonas Gwangwa, Dorothy Masuku, Letta Mbulu, Vusi Khumalo, Khaya Dlamini and Sibongile Khumalo, whose award winning debut album he produced.
His musical performances include Buwa, Caiphus Semenya’s hit musical which toured extensively in Africa, Mothobi Mutloatse’s musical, Baby Come Duze and Mandla Langa’s Milestones. The jazzy Tales from the South is his first solo release and it leans heavily on jazz and traditional music roots, infused with a modern sound.
Themba co-owns a music production company geared for the advertising industry and owns Mavovo Production Studios, which produces albums for several musicians
A NEW DAWN
It’s one of the most anticipated albums of 2002 – and (album title), the just-released from Tshepo “The Village Pope” Tshola more than delivers on its promise to return this much-loved artist to the Centre stage of the Southern African music scene.
At Once warm, intimate and personal, (album title) is not only a return to form for the man who first captured the public’s imagination as the leader of seminal eighties Afrobeat group, Sankomota. It marks, as the artist says, a “whole new face” for Tshola, shifting the singer onto fresh musical ground and cementing him in a lyrical foundation that is poignant, moving and riveting.
It’s no surprise that (album title) is so powerful – particularly in its messages. Tshola describes track offering as ” a great statement of humbleness for me”. It’s a humbleness that is born out of the singers recent recovery from 17 long years of addiction to both drugs and alcohol that saw Tshola – with the help of the Musicians and Artists Assistance Programme SA (MAAPSA) – spend three months at the Tabankulu Recovery Centre in the Cape last year.
And what gorgeous fruit is indeed! Just short of a dozen tracks, the album showcases Tshola’s always compelling, utterly unique voice in dazzling form throughout as well as a vivid musical vista that transverses Gospel to subtle afro-jazz moments, traditional music-soaked material, afroboat tracks, funk-flowing repertoire and more, all coming together in one great package.
Tshepo Tshola is eager to pay tribute to the collaborative nature of album (album title).
Again revealing his ability to be far more selfless and less self-centered than before, Tshola largely stood back from the song writing and production process during the album’s production. Hugh Masekela, Blondie Makhene, Khaya Mahlangu and Khotso are just some of the heavyweight musical talents who have lent their creative minds to the project. Explains Tshola “This time around, I decided I would get my friend to write songs for me, because over the years I have been writing my own music but I thought that it would be great to get another ear and different input. I approached people like Hugh Masekela and Frank Leepa who I worked with in the group Sankomota for years. We then called on producing talents of people like Blondie, Khaya and Khotso to play a role. It became an album that my dear friend to take the best out of me and I must say that I have never seen people working so harmoniously on someone else’s project”.
In terms of songwriting, Leepa contributed “Kithi Githi” and “Makolilo”, which Tshola composed together with his old band mate. “It’s been some time since Frank and I wrote together. Being together again it was that spiritual bond all over again, I started my music career with Frank so he’d play one note and I’d know what the next note would be! The connection is still very strong and I think it shows on the songs that appear on the album.
Tshola says Masekela role in (album title) is the stuff of the deepest creative relationship. “Hugh gave his all this album, from day one to the last day, from songwriting, producing and performing with his horn and as a singer, his input is invaluable”. But much of the album’s wonderfully intimate and personal feel lies in Tshola stretching his creative boundaries. After all, during his years with Sankomota and as a solo artist, “The village pope was renowned for his pronouncements on social and political issues of the day – not for necessarily revealing personal moments.
Other songs included are just as affecting and carry as strong threads of authenticity. There’s the cautionary tale of “Kithi Githi” – definitely an album standout. “Joala” is direct and to the point. A tale about a drunkard who stands in danger of losing everything, it features a praise singer from Lesotho, adding immeasurably to the song’s impact. As (album title) reveals Tshola has been through life-altering experiences, yet the singer still retains his sense of humour.
“Tu means you in French.” Says Tu Nokwe. And if you didn’t know better you’d be forgiven for thinking Nokwe means music in Xhosa. It doesn’t, but in a sense it does. The Nokwe’s are the Jackson’s 5 of Africa. The family is comprised of six members who have made music most of their lives.
Her parents and Bheki Mseleku who used to live with her family in KwaMashu, as well as the myriad musicians who visited the Nokwe residence musically influenced Tu. Her father Alfred was in a number of popular swing bands in the 50’s and 60’s and her mother Patty went from being a virtual slave in a Durban family’s household, to one of the finest mezzo-sopranos this country has known, she taught all her children to sing and Tu taught herself to play guitar on a make shift guitar. The Black African Angels were a vocal group that Tu started with her sister Marilyn and a friend Nonhlanhla. Their fame spread and they recorded an album on RPM records. Their performances exposed Tu to disadvantaged township youth, which was where the seeds for Tu’s Amajika Youth and Children’s Art Project were sewn.
Amajika teaches kids music, drama, dance and self-respect. Seven of its members were selected to perform in Mbongeni Ngema’s Broadway hit Sarafina, including Leleti Khumalo who played the lead role. In New York Tu auditioned at the Manhattan School Of Music and was offered a scholarship on the spot. After leaving the school, she developed a one-person play in the USA, which toured 21-prisons in 11 days.
Upon returning home Tu wrote about her experiences in the songs featured on Inyaka Nyaka, her second solo album. The first album Mind Your Own Business was released to critical acclaim just before her departure to America. Tu has featured in six plays, including in Singing the Times the biography of her mother’s life, which she wrote. She has starred in numerous TV programs and has appeared on several albums.
YVONNE CHAKA CHAKA
Known as the Princess of Africa, Yvonne Chaka Chaka started out as a starry-eyed 19 year-old in 1985 with the release of her debut album I’m in Love With a DJ. The album laid a solid foundation for a successful career that has seen her emerge as a gifted artist and a determined businesswoman. Yvonne has carved herself a niche within Afrobeat and dance music but her style is diverse ranging from urban Afrobeat to folk, dance ballads, Pop and songs with a strong social message. She has largely produced her two latest albums Yvonne and Friends, released in 2000, and Kwenzenjani, released in December 2001.
Yvonne has performed for Heads of State including President Nelson Mandela, and is well know throughout the African continent. In 1992 she was one of the judges in the Miss World Pageant. A world-class singer, performer, motivator and radio presenter, Yvonne emphasizes the importance of supporting women in business, she spends a large amount of time raising funds for different Non Governmental Organisations and charities.
In Memory of Sipho Gumede
was born in Cator Manor, Durban. His earliest musical memory is of playing guitar and penny whistle. The guitar was home made: a 5 gallon tin, wood and fish gut. He and his friends would play the tunes of Spokes Mashiyane, Zakes Nkosi and Lemmy “Special” Mabaso.
At the age of 12, Sipho went to stay on a farm some 30 kms from Umlazi. He was exposed to many different kinds of music – vocal and soulful traditions, the music of weddings and funerals. After school each day, he’d pass the time watching cattle practising on a borrowed guitar. This period was crucial in the formation of Sipho’s musical outlook.
Sipho returned to Umlazi at the age of 16 and met the late great jazz guitarist, Cyril Magubane who introduced him to the music of Wes Montgomery and the world of jazz. He also met Dick Khoza and landed his first professional job as a member of the Jazz Revellers, switching from guitar to bass.
In 1970, Sipho headed for Johannesburg, arriving in a strange city he headed for the only place he knew. Dorkay House in Eloff Street. There, he met the great musicians of the time. He joined Dennis Mpale and Cocky Tlhotlhalemaje in “Isintu” and worked with Dennis’ band at the Piano Culo Music Festival. Thereafter, Sipho rejoined Dick khoza who was based at the Pelican Nightclub. The Pelican was a great musical laboratory in the 1970’s. On any given night, legendary artists would pop in for a jam or perform as part of the Sunday night cabaret.
Later Sipho joined Gibson Kente and toured the country. He then left Gibson to concentrate on practising and perfecting his technique, upon hearing the music of Stanley Clarke, Airto Moreira, Flora Purim and Chick Corea. He then teamed up with Jabu Nkosi, Barney Rachabane, Duke Makasi, Dennis Mpale and Enoch Mtlelane as the short lived Roots. After the demise of the Roots, Sipho met Bheki Mseleku forming a dynamic and creative partnership which eventually led to the formation of Spirits Rejoice – a group which provided the space to create, which both artists had been looking for. Spirits Rejoice were an innovative and creative band that explored the many facets of jazz fusion. In 1982, Sipho together with Khaya Mahlangu, decided to explore fusion coupled with the African sounds he had grown up with, and so Sakhile was born. It was here that Sipho was able to merge the divergent musical paths travelled over the years and produce magical songs like ‘Mantombi’.
Since then, Sipho has continuously been creating new and challenging music through a series of inspired collaborations. He toured the United States of America, Canada and the Bahamas with Harry Belafonte and Letta Mbulu. Along with Caiphus Semenya, Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and Letta Mbuli, he produced the musical show ‘Buwa’, which told the story of South African music in the context of South African history. The show played in Harare, Zimbabwe and several other African states before it closed in Sweden. 1987 saw the rebirth of Sakhile. They toured Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom. They also represented South Africa at the ‘Meeting of the World’ music festival which took place in Finland and the (then) Soviet Union. Sakhile also toured several African states and together with Abigail Kubheka, they played all the major cities in Germany. Later that same year, Sipho performed with Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu and Hugh Masekela at the Montreux Jazz Festival in an African Evening produced by Quincy Jones.
In 1992, his solo album “Thank you for Listening” won an OKTV Award for Best African Fusion Album. In 1995 he was awarded with an achievement award from Johnny Walker Black Label for his outstanding contribution to the South African Music Industry.
In Memory of OLIVER MTUKUDZI
Oliver Mtukudzi, known as Tuku, is one of the most prolific musicians in the world. He has produced over 40 albums infused with his unique sound, known as Tuku music and since 1980, he has produced two albums a year. His music encompasses elements of traditional Zimbabwean and South African rhythms and drums and his lyrics are inspired by the daily experiences of ordinary people. Oliver Mtukudzi is a singer, song-writer, guitarist, arranger and musical director.
Based in Zimbabwe, he performs all over Africa and abroad with his group The Black Spirits who have been together since the late 1970’s. Their first album was an instant success and the album Africa, released in 1980, became a symbol of unity and freedom for the newly independent Zimbabweans. The Black Spirits have performed throughout Europe and Africa, in North America and Canada. The group has shared the stage with famous artists Baba Maal, Taj Mahal, Lucky Dube, Caiphus Semenya, Brenda Fassie, Thomas Mapfumo and others. They have performed at music festivals worldwide including in the USA, Abidjan, Stockholm, Europe and North America.
Most of Oliver’s albums have been best sellers released all over the world under various labels. Apart from his music career, he was the lead in a feature film, JIT released in Europe, coupled with The Black Spirits performance at Denmark’s Images of Africa Festival. He wrote and arranged the music score and starred in Neria, which won the M-Net Best Soundtrack Award in 1992. He also wrote and directed the successful musical Was my Child.
IN MEMORY OF SHALUZA MAX MNTAMBO
An outstandingly talented singer, composer, producer and arranger, Shaluza Max’s first band, Jama was formed in 1986. Jama became a regular on the jazz circuit alongside famous South African acts Stimela, Sankomota, Tananas and Bayete before disbanding in 1988. ShaluzaMax is strongly rooted in the African and contemporary jazz traditions with a background in gospel music. His tenor voice adapts to a range of vocal expression.
He toured the world with Mbongeni Ngema’s hit musical Sarafina, after 30 months in Europe, Sarafina was invited to Japan where it played to sell-out crowds. ShaluzaMax, then 20 years old, played the male lead vocalist and was also voice trainer for the group. In 1992, he left Sarafina and was lead vocalist on Sakhile’s Welcome Home album. He performed at Hugh Masekela’s second show in South Africa after 30 years in exile, at Sun City.
In 1992 ShaluzaMax performed all songs on the Shell Road to Fame in the song writing category. He played the lead in the opera-theatre Sacrifice of Mmabatho, which toured Off-Broadway in New York for six months. B&W record company launched the legendary Outernational Meltdown series and brought together over 40 musicians from South Africa, the US, Cuba, Brazil and the UK. ShaluzaMax composed, arranged and sang on most of the thirty tracks. Through B&W Music three South African and two British musicians formed the group Barungwa (The Messengers). Moses Molelekwa was a band member and ShaluzaMax was lead vocalist, lyricist, composer and arranger. Barungwa toured the UK, Ireland and South Africa. Their music was a fusion of Zulu, Xhosa and Pedi rhythms and London acid-jazz.
ShaluzaMax co-wrote and co-produced the soundtrack for the film Jock of the Bushveld, he sang on The Lion King and scored and produced the sound track of the full-length feature film Chikin Biznis – The Whole Story for which he was awarded an NTVA Avanti Craft Award.
In Memory of Jabu Kanyile and BAYETE
Bayete is synonymous with Jabu Khanyile who fronts the group, which dates back to the 1980’s. After ten years of performing together, the original group disbanded in 1993 and Jabu, hopeful of their reunion, still calls his band Bayete. In the 90’s, Bayete were one of South Africa’s most important groups, famous for the hits Mbombela and the 1990 Mbube (lion), which became a symbol for unity during the struggle.
Jabu’s musical influence came largely from his father who used to sing mbube songs and from his older brother John, who led a group called Editions. Jabu was spotted by the manager of Editions and the result was a new group of younger musicians. With another group he released Izinyembezi (My Tears) and formed The Movers who attained Gold with their hit Inhlonipho.
Since their disbanding, Jabu has collaborated with several former Bayete members, notably with keyboarder/arranger Themba Mkhize on his album, Cheeky Mama. Jabu and Bayete’s new disc Umkhaya-Lo on which he collaborated with Thapelo Kgomo, is rich with West African and South African rhythms. Teaming up again with Thapelo and Ian Osrin, Bayete have matured its new sound. The album features Victor Masondo, Jabu Sibumbe, Kenny Mathaba and Don Gumbo.
Jabu has been the support-act for Salif Keita. In 1994 he won two South African Music Awards Best Male Performer of the Year and Best Song of the Year for Mmalo-We. Thapelo Kgomo won the Best Producer award for his part on the album.
IN MEMORY OF BUSI MHLONGO
Singer, dancer and composer Busi Mhlongo’s traditional upbringing in KwaZulu Natal forms the foundation for her diverse music style whose basis is strongly Zulu and incorporates elements of mbaqanga, maskanda, marabi, jazz, funk, Rock, gospel, rap, opera, reggae and West African rhythms.
The message that comes across in Busi’s music concerns the need to empower and unite people from different cultural outlooks. She sings in Zulu and English with an accompanying stage performance of international standard and appeal.
Urban Zulu, Busi’s debut album, was released by Melt 2000 and produced by Will Mowatt. Busi fuses her unique singing style on the album with the groove-oriented maskanda and by so doing, introduces a new slant on Zulu music.
Busi worked on Urban Zulu with musicians from Kwazulu Natal and because of her high status within Zulu culture, she was allowed to make use the King’s singers.
IN MEMORY OF BRENDA FASSIE
In December 2001, a three-page spread of Brenda appeared in Time magazine with the headline, The Madonna of the Townships. The article focused on her recent trip to America, her extraordinary talent and attention grabbing antics. She is undoubtedly the most popular performer in the land with one of the best voices in Africa and has fittingly been dubbed “The girl with the golden voice”. Brenda regularly performs throughout Africa where she has a better reception than even Nelson Mandela and Michael Jackson put together.
When she was 16, the legendary producer Koloi Lebona went to Langa Township in Cape Town to hear her sing. He brought her back to Johannesburg and shortly after arriving she joined the band Joy as a stand in singer for a member. Soon after Brenda quite her schooling and took up an offer to join Blondie and Papa as a solo artist on their road show. The band Brenda and the Big Dudes, which catapulted her into fame, was formed. In 1983 they released Weekend Special, which became the fastest selling record of the time and entered the Billboard Hot Black singles chart in 1986. This led to their touring the USA, UK, Europe, Australia and Brazil.
In the 1980’s Brenda’s solo career exploded into superstar status. She released the hit Cool Spot and teamed up with Sello “Chicco” Twala, producer on four of her award winning albums. Now Is The Time, released in 1996, features two duets with Zairian music legend, Papa Wemba and the 1997 release Paparazzi features a duet with Bayete’s Jabu Khanyile. Memeza was released in 1998 and became South Africa’s best selling release of the year, earning Brenda several South African Music Awards and a 1999 Kora award for Best Female Artist. In 1999, Nomakanjani? was released, and in 2000, Amadlozi. The second half of 2001saw the release of Brenda’s Greatest Hits album Mina Nawe which won the South African Music Awards for Best Selling Release, an award she has received four years in a row.
IN MEMORY OF DOLLY RATHEBE & PETER MAKONATELA – THE ELITE SWINGSTERS
Since 1958, the Elite Swingsters have been the most consistently popular exponents of that uniquely South African musical brew known as African Jazz, but don’t dismiss the band as a bunch of mouldy old revivalists. The Elite’s’ music may have been fashioned from the continuation of a great tradition but they’re not content to merely recreate past glories. And when you see that word “Jazz” in this context don’t start thinking about the cool, obscure, atonal variety that requires a musicology degree to “understand”.
The Swingsters’ African Jazz is quite simply some of the world’s greatest party music. Its strong on good, classic melodies – the kind that keep repeating themselves on your own mental jukebox long after the gig is over or the record is finished – served up with hot, instantly contagious rhythms that lift burns out of seats and onto a dancefloor. Stylistically speaking, its really a blend of African melodies and harmonies with American swing, together with an added dose of New Orleans rhythm and blues and even some good ol’ rock ‘n roll thrown in for good measure.
Of course, it is useful to have a well-established reputation and the Elite Swingsters have long been a household name in the townships. Thanks to this the band has featured at a number of gigs that would be right at the top of anybody’s social calendar. First there was a small party for the previous State President (where he ended up dancing with the Elite’s vocalist, Dolly Rathebe), then they played at the prestigious launch of Dr Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk To Freedom” (where trumpeter Hugh Masekela sat in on a few numbers). The Elite’s were also chosen to play at Westminster Abbey for the occasion marking South Africa’s re-admittance to the British Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles headed the guest list and the Prince went out of his way to chat to the individual band members, then asked for some more of the music.
But what in a way is even more gratifying is the fact that the Elites are now being discovered by an entirely new audience, the result of a hectic schedule which has encompassed dozens of private parties and functions as wall as some sensational public appearances at various nightspots.
After playing for a recent gathering of local and American businessmen (at a resort in the Natal Drakensberg) some of the South Africans confided to the band that they had initially assumed the Elites were an American import! Several also added how much they regretted that the divisions of the apartheid years had kept them so completely ignorant of the band and their music.
Peter Makonatela is the bandleader and joined the band in 1961 when he was still in his teens. He’s on alto sax (not to mention an occasional outing on pennywhistle) and besides providing many of the extended solos, he forms part of an extremely well oiled saxophone section that provides the always distinctive essence of the Elite’s sound.
Peter is arguably one of the best alto sax players in the business and writes most of the band’s material. His songs have received recognition overseas where they have been used for commercial advertising and by other artists.
The other members are more recent additions who have played a critical role in modifying the band’s style to keep it ever fresh and up-to-date. Providing a melodic counterpoint to the saxes (as well as a considerable punch to the rhythm) are the almost boogie-woogie keyboards of Dan Ngema (who started his musical career as a Sotho Traditional accordion player) and the sizzling bluesy guitar of George ‘Magu Mangxola. ‘Magy is a mbaquanga veteran of hundreds of recording sessions and one of South Africa’s all-time great guitarists (His sister Mildred is one of the Mahotella Queens) The two youngsters who provide the rock solid, but swinging rhythmic underpinning for the band, are drummer Jackie Mogale and Paul Ntleru on bass guitar. They both earned their chops playing together for Nature, a local disco outfit, and got involved with the Swingsters almost by accident. Paul, in particular, hesitated at first to join a band whose style was so different from the one he’d grown up with. He says, “It was difficult for me at first but I now know that this is the music I always wanted to play”.
Last but far from least, there’s vocalist Dolly Rathebe, “The Queen of The Blues”. She was already a veteran star when she sang regularly with the Elite’s in the 1960’s, having earlier made her name as the country’s first African female jazz vocalist and film actress (not to mention magazine cover girl!). Dolly rejoined the band a few years back and today, her legendary prowess remains totally intact.
She can handle a rocker or a ballad with perfect aplomb, thanks to a voice incorporating what is undoubtedly the silkiest and most sultry low range in the business.
The concept behind the latest Elite Swingsters recording, “Siya Gida – We Dance”, was to recreate in the studio a typical program of the band’s current performances. There are several brand new tunes penned by various members of the band (“Get Me Right”, “Shebeen Dance”, “Dipholo” and “Ke Filwe”) mixed with a number of older standards. Glen Miller’s classic “In The Mood” is given an African touch “Skokiaan” is a Zimbabwean evergreen from the early 1950’s, which become internationally popular when recorded by Louis Armstrong, among many others.
IN MEMORY OF TEASPOON NDLELU – AFRICAN FOCUS
The well-known Tony Maonde, with over 40 years of piano playing experience under his belt, has teamed up with sax player Teaspoon Ndelu of Mango Groove and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens fame, to form the African Focus duo. Thanks to their talent and professionalism, African Focus has become a popular feature at corporate functions, weddings and private parties.
Their repertoire is an array of African favourites, township jazz, jazz standards and popular music from shows and big bands. They have performed at a number of prestigious venues and hotels in Johannesburg, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Their clients include Eskom, SAA, IBM, Rand Merchant Bank, M-Net, the Oppenheimer family, CSIR, Eagle Ford, South African Breweries, Xcel Info Technologies, Morso, Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority, Gerling General Insurance of SA, ANC and Trafalgar Properties.
African Focus is very versatile group should circumstances require, they can adapt themselves to be a duo, trio, quartet – including drums – or a five-piece band with a vocalist.
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