Zimbabwean mega-star Oliver Mtukudzi will headline a star-studded line up at the Birchwood Jazz Festival tonight. Picture: Supplied

FOR 17 years, the Birchwood jazz evening has seen many a star grace its stage. They don't come any bigger than the Zimbabwean mega-star Oliver Mtukudzi, who headlines the star-studded line-up tonight and urges all those in attendance to bring their dancing shoes.

For the iconic Mtukudzi, the Birchwood stage is a place for him to let loose.

“Like always, I am a little nervous, but I am looking forward to it. You are not going to sit down and watch but you are going to dance,” he said.

Celebrating 17 years with the Birchwood Jazz Festival, Mtukudzi promises a memorable night.

The legendary musician said: "It's good to be involved with the venue and they have been following me for so long. To be celebrating with them is an honour. People should come to the show because it won't be a show without them. If they can come I will be very grateful,” the 65-year-old musician said.

The founder of the Birchwood jazz evening, Jazzman Mahlakgane, said it has been a passionate project that never gets tired.

“It hasn't been an easy task but the concept has managed to obtain patrons and is still growing strong. A lot of artists have developed through it and I think the journey of this concept and its sustainability for the last 17 years has been a real milestone.”

When the concept started all those years ago, Mahlakgane wanted to change the perception people had of Boksburg.

"So we decided to do something out of the ordinary and host a music concert to show the aspects of the hotel. It was a risk going in with this jazz concept and it has paid off.”

Mahlakgane said the jazz evening was a big and celebrated event that helped to launch many careers.

"Thandiswa Mazwai and Judith Sephuma started out on the stage many years ago.”

He added that some of his fondest memories included making friends along the way with the likes of the late Ray Phiri and seeing the growth of artists.

"Every time a new artist opens a show on the Birchwood stage, we know they will be big. Every month is a new memory.”

Mahlakgane said it was important for them to create platforms for young and upcoming artists. The jazz evening had started incorporating comedians as well, for this reason.

“We've been thinking of going the route of the original North Sea Jazz Festival, having different stages at the hotel with different genres and one ticket gets you in. It's something in the pipeline.”

mane_mpi

The Star