BACK AGAIN: Songstress Simphiwe Dana and her new band will return to the CTIJF later this month to mark former president Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebration. She says the playlist will be littered with Struggle songs.
Cape Town - The first time Simphiwe Dana performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) in 2005 she was so popular the organisers had to immediately fit in a second performance.

The singer vaguely remembers a commotion outside the hall at the time, but was concentrating on her performance and didn’t realise so many people didn’t get to see her perform.

“Then when we did the second show I was a bit confused. It took a while to sink in just what was happening,” Dana said.

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At the time the singer was riding high on the success of her debut album, Zandisile, and the CTIJF concert was her biggest to date.

Today she is a multi-award winning vocalist with a busy local and international performance schedule and three more studio albums, one live CD and two live DVDs under her belt.

Nowadays rehearsals are much more relaxed as she and the band are now old pros.

But for her next CTIJF performance on March 23, Dana has gathered a group of female musicians for a performance with a difference.

Pianist/vocalist Thandi Ntuli collaborates with many in the local jazz scene, but this will be the first time she plays with Dana. She was the first to be approached by Dana. They roped in Siya Makhuzeni (trombone), Tebogo Sedumedi (bass), Catherine Nhlapo (percussion), Linda Tshabalala (alto sax and flute), Portia Sibiya (drums), Titi Luzipho (vocals) and Gugu Shezi (vocals).

Now that the band has been assembled they are rehearsing furiously.

“This time round the band are all people I have never worked with before so we have to put much more time into it,” she said.

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Dana is relishing her position as a music director and says this is the direction she wants to move into.

“That is what I am trying to achieve as a musician. Not just to be hired to do my work, but to be hired to do projects. I want to do projects that lie outside my comfort zone, where I have a theme to work with and deliver a complete work,” Dana said.

The set list they are working on will be a long walk through the South African Struggle to mark the centenary celebration of former president Nelson Mandela.

“We have rearranged Struggle songs to suit us.

“Maybe we will also perform a new song of mine, or two.

“But, the theme of the show is Struggle songs and we want to remind people of how far we have come and to take stock of how far we have to go,” Dana said.

Own Correspondent.

The 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival takes place on 23 and 24 March 2018 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Day passes are still available at Computicket: For the full CTIJF 2018 Artist Programme, visit

The Cape Town International Jazz Festival is a water-wise event. For more information, please see our Event Water Usage Advisory:

Cape Argus