ON THE MARK: Nolan Baynes is one of the festival organisers. Picture: Lwando Mxutu

An incredible music experience is how the organisers of the Soweto International Jazz Festival describe the extravaganza that starts tomorrow.
This is the standard that festival organiser Nolan Baynes wants to set for all the artists performing at the four-day show.

“You can’t perform on the stage, unless you are amazing. It’s going to be mainly about the music as the driving force to ensure people enjoy the experience.”

Baynes, and co-organisers Ernest Kelly and Martin Wilson are bringing a different type of festival to music lovers.

“We want it to serve as a platform for African and American artists to have a place where they can connect and create opportunities for one another, jam together and show the commonality of black music around the world.”

Baynes said the main aim was to create an economic engine for Soweto, with a set model that others can duplicate and create their own versions of.

“We want to start putting some economic application to Soweto. The majority of people working with us are locals; we want to have a good time and party, but we also want a platform for tourism.”

Ideally, he hoped that the festival would inspire other entrepreneurs to amplify their projects so that more festivals are held throughout the year, he said.

As a “music nerd”, Baynes and his co-organisers got the concept going quickly. “This is our first year; we are trying to streamline everything and not let the idea die. And the development of the theatre iscrucial to our plans.”

He said the scope for the festival was a three-year strategy that would see it reach greater heights going forward. But for now, the most important was to get the music going.

The line-up includes the talented Charlie Wilson, the Neville Brothers, Marion Meadows, Spyro Gyra, Rico Love and Deborah Cox, among the American acts.

“International artists are a bit more challenging to secure. Most artists who are booked are friends and people we have strong relations with, and have done business with, and who we know have the ability to put on a show. These guys love Africa. Charlie Wilson has never been here and is excited to perform in an area that is predominantly black, with such a history. Deborah has been here a few times, Rico toured with Usher but has never done his own show.”

Baynes said the local artists were accommodating and understood the vision of what the game plan was for the festival.

* The festival takes place from Thursday, June 14, to Sunday, June 17, at the Soweto Theatre.


The Star