I had been playing Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue for days prior to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Cheesy as it sounds, it did set the mood required for us to ease into what was to come. Thanks to South African Tourism, we got to experience the whole event through their eyes.
We were situated at the lush Taj Hotel which reeked of such opulence, it was only lacking a butler and one of those beautiful female servants with a fan.
Between VIP suites, numerous music stages, interviews and educational trips in and around Cape Town, there wasn’t a moment of rest on the four-day excursion.
Several interviews were lined up for the first day and we caught up with new and old singers who had come through to perform. Cape Town native, Lana Crowster, who performed on the Friday night for the first time, was thrilled to be part of the showcase.
“I was there before in 2010 and I was backing George Benson. It was incredible because he is a legend and I was still studying. The following year I did the free concert with Tribe of Benjamin and the funny thing is that Benjamin Jephta, the leader of that group, was performing again this year. Another member was Thandi Ntuli who also had a solo performance. We all studied jazz together at university and we are friends,” said the ecstatic Crowster.
As a singer who has been in the industry for several years, Crowster is delighted to be making a name for herself on the international scene.
“The opportunity to perform at the jazz festival was good for my brand. I have been doing this for 15 years and I want to get better. I am already putting some music out there to other international festivals so that the Lana Crowster brand can grow. I think this experience will open doors for me,” she said.
During our conversation, phenomenal singer Thandiswa Mazwai expressed elation when she saw Crowster, saying she is loving M-Net’s The VoiceSA on which Crowster is a contestant.
“Thandiswa Mazwai has my friend Thandi Ntuli in her band and so we had met before but I think she had forgotten. She saw me again on The Voice and said she liked what she heard. I am glad that the TV show (has shown) people what I can do. Now some of the people I looked up to treat me as a peer,” said Crowster.
American singer Angie Stone took some time out to chat with us about her experience of performing on the Kippies stage. She said donning Zulu headgear was symbolic for her.
“I was out shopping when I saw the hat and it screamed at me. It was just a statement to say that I am back home,” said Stone who had a raspy voice thanks to a lingering cold.
“I loved performing here because you loved me. I wasn’t pretty excited about the sound though. It also didn’t help that I was diagnosed with some kind of flu the morning before I went on stage. I understand that Coko from SWV also got the same. It got me coughing until my throat was raw. But it all ended well. I hope to be back sooner (rather) than later. When I come back I would like to perform a show called ‘Two or Three Nights with Angie Stone’ because two hours ain’t enough,” she said.
As with us, SA Tourism had taken Stone to Robben Island where she had found the experience to be an eye-opener.
“There was a book we had to sign once we were done and I poured my heart out. I basically said that I never thought in a million years I would witness such a place as this. I thank God for allowing me to walk behind the footsteps of great men. When I saw the limestone (quarry where) they worked, it became obvious to me that even though (the authorities) tried to pull them down, they only made them stronger. We should take that with us because they became one,” said Stone.
Local artists who attended Stone’s show included Kabomo, DJ Cleo and Lira.