Plans are steaming ahead for what promises to be an exciting inaugural Soweto International Jazz Festival. As Youth Day approaches, there is no better time for the spotlight to be on the iconic township.
The festival takes place at the Soweto Theatre from June 14 to June 17.
It will feature both local and international acts, as well as music workshops and panel discussions.
“You can’t have visionaries in the room and not create an event as amazing and complex as the Soweto Jazz Fest,” International Arts Solutions representative Nolan Baynes said.
The four-day event is being organised by the Soweto Theatre, Gauteng Tourism, Proudly Soweto and Independent Media. It is expected to attract tourists, especially from the US.
“If we could bring the tourists and house them during the Fifa World Cup, then we can do it again with the Soweto Jazz Festival. Let’s bring money to Jabulani, which is the CBD of Soweto,” theatre manager Nomsa Mazwai said.
Baynes said the festival was set up almost in the manner of a lifestyle event, with each day split into morning sessions and evening concerts.
The music extravaganza will feature international appearances and performances from US award-winning songwriter Rico Love, singer Deborah Cox, jazz band Spyro Gyra, Third World and R&B singer Charlie Wilson, among others.
Local artists listed are Nasty C, Mi Casa, Sho Madjozi, Lady Zamar, Zamajobe and the Soweto Gospel Choir.
There will also be a competition for 13 upcoming musicians and producers, 10 of which will be selected for specific workshops held by top producers, and three upcoming musicians given a chance to produce their own single.
“We want to give local musicians the stage to live their dreams and get the opportunity to work with successful musicians and producers,” Baynes said.
The event will start with a workshop on songwriting and producing music. The day will end with evening concerts featuring Nasty C, Major League DJz and Raheem Devaughn.
Day two will be dedicated to empowering women, with a one-on-one panel discussion with singer and businesswoman Deborah Cox.
She will share the stage with Umoja, Zamajobe, Bob Jones and Lady Zamar.
The third day will be reserved for the international music scene, with workshops held by the iconic Third World, a poetry session and evening performances by Charlie Wilson, Mutabaruka and the Neville Brothers.
The last day will be a connection between spirituality and music, with various panel discussions, followed by performances from Ernie Smith, Irvin Mayfield and Mi Casa.