File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Jazz bands looking for their big break have a chance to perform at Africa’s Grandest Gathering next year by entering espAfrika’s online talent search.

The espYoungLegends contest, running until the end of this month, offers the winning band a performance slot at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF).

Festival director Billy Domingo said they were looking for an unsigned jazz-inspired band to perform at the 20th edition of the festival next March.

The band should comprise two to eight members who will win the chance to join the festival line-up. The band must be able to perform a 45-minute set that must include original and cover songs.

“We want bands with high-performance standards, quality of musicianship and a strong focus on pushing their career forward,” said Domingo.

“This is our commitment to leaving behind a legacy. We want to nurture young talent and help careers grow.

“Our musicians are a treasure and it is important that we invest in them,” he said.

Established in 2016, espYoungLegends is an espAfrika initiative and its online search aims to make the selection process as accessible and democratic as possible.

The public also has a chance to vote for the band they want to see at the festival.

Previous espYoungLegends winners include Lana Crowster from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth’s VuDu, as well as the reigning champ, Jarrad Ricketts.

He said he always wanted to perform at the festival in his home city.

“I entered my self-penned single, Take Me To Your Heart. I thought why not submit something original so that people could see what I do as an artist,” said Ricketts.

“I didn’t want to get caught into being known for someone else’s song. I wanted to be known for my song. I wanted to be judged on that.”

Ricketts was overwhelmed with the publicity he received in newspapers, radio stations and on TV.

“Performing at the festival helped me become a household name. If nobody knows you, you’d better believe that by the time you get to the festival, people will know who you are.

“The public embraced me and people supported me. I got to meet big names in the music industry,” said Ricketts.

“I’m also now being booked for other festivals, just based on people seeing me at the jazz festival. The kind of coverage that I have received is what most artists can’t afford,” he said.

Ricketts encourages artists to enter the espYoungLegends 2019 online talent search.

“It’s an awesome concept to let your talent speak for itself. Of course, you have to work hard to be on one of the biggest jazz stages in Africa.

“You need to market yourself and promote your song,” said Ricketts.

For more information on the competition criteria and how to enter, go to the website: http://www.espafrika.com/espyl/