Manny Walters. Picture: Instagram/Henry Engelbrecht

It’s his first time at the jazz fest and for the Cape Town-based musician Manny Walters it’s one of the most important opportunities that’s come his way.

Born in Port Elizabeth 30 years ago, the jazz, blues, rhythm and soul songwriter and guitarist actually studied linguistics and psychology, but for the last nine years has been making in-roads in the music industry - having released his first EP Anecdotes back in 2015.

READ: The Soil promises fireworks on stage #CTIJF2018

“Playing and writing music has been part of a long journey of self discovery and finding a channel for my creative and emotive expression.

“I’m almost entirely self-taught, with no formal training background. My greatest teacher has in fact been the music I have been exposed to in my life,” he says.

“My voice was cultivated at home. The soundtrack of my childhood is drenched with soul music that filled my parents’ formative years - artists like Sam Cooke, the Jackson Five, Marvin Gaye, The Stylistics and Stevie Wonder. This is the music I spent years listening to in my room, trying to emulate these singers; their tone and style.”

But he adds: “In my teen years, the work of Taliep Petersen and David Kramer in the District 6 musical productions really resonated with me - it enlightened my ideas of music, culture and social commentary in a context that was real and that I could really relate to.

“The older I got, the more music I was exposed to - sparking my interest in genres like alternative rock, funk, hip-hop artists like Tracy Chapman, Bill Withers, Prince, Curtis Mayfield, Lenny Kravitz are all musical influences.”

In terms of role models, he answers: “There are very few in terms of the music they make, but yup, specifically Jonathan Butler - he kind of pursued making authentic music in terms of where’s he’s come from and making it cross over to the Western space.”

Walters admits his journey making music has been a tricky one.

“The family I was born into, my parents didn’t know what to do with it all, and for a long time I worked in loads of different day jobs. While I was born in Port Elizabeth and my mom was from Cape Town, I don’t feel that I myself represent any particular area. I’ve moved around a lot and I don’t think I am a product of Cape Town in its most authentic, pure Cape Town form.”

What can audiences expect from him at the festival?

“I’ll be playing one set from my repertoire at 7.30pm on Friday on the Bassline stage. I am really excited about this - I am honoured to be showcasing my music.”

He’ll be playing with his band - featuring himself on guitar and vocals, Asher Gamedze on drums, Eugene Ackerman on bass and Nathan Woodman on keys.

There’s plenty in the pipeline like releasing a new album, Dark Halo, later this year (2017 saw the release of a music video for the single Hear Me Now which will be included in the upcoming album); travelling to Joburg and Pretoria and working with his newly formed band.

“But right now I am putting all my focus on Friday - it is really important and notable for me.”