Posts in "Music"

Swing into spring in downtown Cape Town

Gangsters and their molls, bootleggers, poets and playwrights, flappers and assorted dandies … just another night at your favourite tavern in town, you might think, but Cape Town’s monthly swing nights, which are launching on 1 September at the Reserve at the Taj, promise a whole lot more.

As winter breathes its last misty breaths, Gerald Schreiner, Daneel van Der Walt, David Lubbe and the Swing Cats will present a night of Prohibition era swing, jazz and blues music you can dance to.

Think foxtrot, swing, tap and jitterbug, and tunes like “It’s too darn hot”, “Let’s call the whole thing off” and “On the sunny side of the street”.

These Prohibition era nights (sans Prohibition of course) will bring a little Speakeasy-style decadence to Cape Town’s kinda sleepy city centre.
Guests are asked to dress the part, although it is not compulsory.

“Think of an old school dinner dance, of speakeasies, flapper dresses, flatcaps and champagne glasses moulded off the breast of Marie Antoinette,” the organisers said in a statement.

A sit-down dinner will be available from 7.30pm, and the show starts at 9pm.

Expect this to become a Capetonian institution!

Tickets available here: https://speakeasyswing.co.za/

New classics infused with ancient African tradition

Warm up: young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay got the audience started

A Nigerian Kora player, a South African composer, a Kenyan master of ceremonies and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille were among musicians, VIPs and invited guests gathered at Iziko Museum in Cape Town to listen to “new classics” in celebration of the 54th anniversary of Africa Day on Thursday.

After being warmed up by a few jazzy numbers played by young musicians from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, which features youngsters from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg, the audience was moved to seats under a collection of whale casts and skeletons in Iziko’s “whale well”, for the main show.

In the whale well: Could have been creepy …

A few jokes were made about this Jonah-esque setting before the audience was treated to a varied and moving selection of music, both ancient and brand new. Soon no one even noticed the enormous skeletons suspended above.

The programme included world premieres of new compositions by African classical music composers Tunde Jegede, from Nigeria, and South Africa’s Bongani Ndodana-Breen. The new, challenging scores were performed enthusiastically and elegantly by the Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The showcase of classical music infused with ancient African tradition was the culmination of a series of concerts and public dialogues presented by Africa Arts. The series, titled Africa Connections, was aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Connections has allowed audiences at a variety of venues in Cape Town to engage with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen on the subject of how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Ndodana-Breen said on Friday that the Africa Day concert was also about re-imagining how we look at African creative expression.

Amanda Osorio and Bongani Ndodana-Breen

“We need to go beyond the stereotype of what African music is, locked in the ‘tourist curio’ realm of drums,” he said.

Soprano Osorio, who is also co-executive director of Africa Arts, said she was thrilled about the response to the organisation’s collaboration with the office of the premier of the Western Cape Government and Iziko Museums.

She said: “Africa Arts was very honoured that we could enable two African premieres and commission two world premieres with talented African classical music composers, and that the audience gave such a favourable reception.”

She said the event showed that there was a hunger in Africa for classical music experiences that showcased the talent on the continent and celebrated inclusivity in the arts scene.

Ndodana-Breen added: “Africa has ancient traditions, as we saw in Tunde Jegede playing the Kora but also it has modern artistic expression just like Europe or Asia.

“Yesterday’s concert could have been a concert of new music in London or New York. It had a modern cosmopolitan but African feel to it.”

 

On May 22:

Classical music infused with ancient African tradition

In honour of Africa Month, Capetonians will this week get the rare opportunity to engage with two internationally-renowned classical composers and hear how their African roots and the continent’s classical traditions have impacted their work as modern composers.

Africa Connections, a series of concerts and public dialogues, will showcase the classical music journey from ancient African kingdoms, such as Mali in the 12th century, to today. Presented by Africa Arts, the series is aimed at fostering a new understanding of Africa and breaking down cultural paradigms about classical music.

Africa Arts Group is a registered non-profit organisation that produces “innovative opera and classical music projects that celebrate the rich and diverse creative talent of South African artists”.

The concerts feature music by Nigerian kora master and composer Tunde Jegede, pictured left, and South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, internationally renowned African musicians who have infused Western music with African traditions. The composers have received international acclaim for works ranging from opera and chamber to symphonic music that are influenced by classical African cultures.

As a composer, Jegede has worked with major orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia and the London Mozart Players. Over the years, he has kept his creative diversity intact by working closely with singers, vocalists and spoken-word artists from a wide range of traditions, including opera, pop, R ‘n B, reggae, hip hop and jazz.

His own jazz ensemble, The Jazz Griots, was created to explore the connections between African and African diasporic forms of music and, in 1995, the BBC produced a television documentary, Africa: Remember, about his music.

South African composer Ndodana-Breen’s music is a blend of African and classical styles and reflects on various scenes from his native Xhosa culture.

He has received commissions from across the globe. According to The New York Times, his “delicately made music – airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted – has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance”.

On Tuesday, May 23, the Institute for the Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town will present a rare opportunity to hear Jegede perform the kora, the West African harp-lute. The event will include a discussion and Q and A session with Jegede and Ndodana-Breen, who will be exploring African classical traditions and how they have impacted their compositions as modern composers.

On Wednesday, Jegede will perform his original African-infused music with some of Cape Town’s leading jazz musicians at Harringtons Cocktail Lounge on Harrington Street in the East City.

The series culminates with a gala event on Thursday, featuring world premieres of two new works by Jegede and Ndodana-Breen played by Africa Arts Ensemble Noir, a chamber orchestra of 15 players from Cape Town with the soprano soloist Amanda Osorio.

The event, commemorating Africa Day, will also showcase young talent from Kronendal Music Academy in Hout Bay, featuring young musicians from the community of Imizamo Yethu informal settlement and Hangberg. The young musicians will entertain invited guests with lighter, popular African music.

The event will be streamed live at www.africaarts.co.za at 7pm on the day and recorded for a later radio broadcast.

Africa Connections is an Africa Month initiative curated by Africa Arts and presented in collaboration with the Western Cape Government, Iziko Museums of South Africa and the Institute for Creative Arts at UCT.

In addition to the live events, Africa Arts, in partnership with the Western Cape Government, will launch Africa Connections, a commemorative publication. The publication, to be launched at Iziko on Africa Day, May 25, is described as “highlighting the bonds between the Cape and the rest of the continent”.

More info http://www.africaarts.co.za/events

 

Musical feast at Durban’s beachfront festival

Durbanites look set to get a lot more than “what is needed” this weekend, May 26-28, when a star-studded line-up from around the world plays on two stages at the third annual Zakifo Music Festival at Blue Lagoon Beach.

Ray Phiri

“Sakifo means what is needed in Creole,” says Jerome Galabert, one of the event’s co founders.

Galabert, who owns Sakifo Musik Festival in Reunion Island as well as Reunion Electronic Groove, Francofolies and Ioma, added: “With Zakifo Durban our intention is the same.”

The organisers of the Durban festival describe the line-up of 22 acts from as far afield as the UK, Jamaica, Niger, Congo and Lesotho as “one of the most multi-genre global music line-ups ever gathered together in one festival programme”.

Damian ‘JR Gong’ Marley

Including a wide galaxy of stars from Damian “JR Gong” Marley, the son of the original Marley, to a number of South African favourites such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Ray Phiri and The Soil and Congolese-Belgian act Baloji, to Tuareg musician-activist Bombino and Ghana’s Jojo Abot, this festival promises a multi-cultural multi-genre feast.

The festival, from May 26-28, will take place on Durban’s promenade, with two stages, a cultural area, food carts and stalls, craft beer bars, local traders and interactive installations and art exhibits. The backdrop will be provided by crashing waves.

Zakifo, which was was started by Galabert, Sipho Sithole and Andy Davis, is part of a music festival circuit in Southern Africa that takes place over three weeks. Other events on the circuit are Sakifo festival in Reunion, Maputo’s Azgo festival, the Bassline Africa Day concert in Johannesburg and Swaziland’s Bushfire festival.

Award-winning South African a capella group The Soil

Sithole, festival co-founder and owner of Native Rhythms, said: “Zakifo is a destination festival, a people-to-people encounter … We guarantee you that over the years this festival will become part of travellers’ annual calendar coming from all over the world.”

Zakifo is hosted with support from the Department of Arts and Culture, East Coast Radio, Air Austral, eThekwini Municipality and Durban Tourism.

Tickets are available at Computicket.

Afropunk is coming to Africa (Jozi strikes gold again)

This year’s theme, We The People, was chosen to coincide with Afropunk’s first Johannesburg outing

Johannesburg will in December join New York, Atlanta, London and Paris as cities hosting global Afropunk events.

The first batch of performers for the inaugural festival on December 30 and 31 – “two nights of music, style, art and food” on the city’s Constitution Hill – was announced by Sal Masekela at an event at Constitution Hill’s Women’s Jail.

In the footsteps of giants: artists who have performed at past festivals include Grace Jones and Lenny Kravitz

The site of the notorious Old Fort Prison Complex and the Constitutional Court is a powerful choice of venue. The hill has seen it all: violent criminals and political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, held side by side, as well as all the goings on in the highest court in the land.

Dawn Robertson, chief executive of Constitution Hill, was quoted as saying this place of injustice, brutality and the violation of human rights as well as of solidarity and democracy is a “most fitting home for Afropunk”.

More than music: Afropunk is a cultural movement

The Afropunk Festival – the first of which was held Brooklyn, in New York, 14 years ago – is described as a “musical institution, defining culture in the music world for more than 14 years, a triumph of multiculturalism and diversity for people of all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes”.

Johannesburg is seen as a “natural fit” considering Afropunk’s “desire to make connections throughout the diaspora”.

Style and substance: Afropunk is HOT! and cool all at once

“The Afropunk mindset is less concerned with genres and pigeonholes, than the strength and unity of otherness.

“Modern South Africa is proof of the victory of otherness over historical precedent, and of the country’s desire to mould a society based on virtues that are at the core of Afropunk,” the statement added.

“We are excited about collaborating with South African artists, audiences and service providers in a similar way as we do in America and in Europe, as we establish Afropunk in Africa,” said festival co-creator Matthew Morgan.

Music at Afropunk Joburg will include house, kwaito, punk, hip-hop, soul, reggae, roots and pop

He said music at the Afropunk Johannesburg celebration would be “thoughtfully curated” and include house, kwaito, punk, hip-hop, soul, reggae, roots, pop and other genres.

The event is scheduled to culminate “in an unforgettable New Year’s Eve party in this awesome African city”.

In the footsteps of giants …

Artists who have performed at past Afropunk festivals include Grace Jones, D’Angelo, Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu and Ice Cube.

We, The People: Uber cool Mzansi

The early line-up for the three stages at Afropunk Johannesburg includes: Solange, Laura Mvula, King Tha vs. Blk Jks, Theo Parrish, The Brother Moves On, Spoek Mathambo, Black Motion, God’s Sons & Daughters, Manthe Ribane & OKZharp, DJ Lag, Urban Village, Nakhane Toure, Nonku Phiri and TCIYF.

This year’s theme is We, The People, the phrase that starts both the American and South African constitutions. It was chosen to coincide with Afropunk’s first outing in Johannesburg … “which makes the Constitution Hill venue even more poignant,” said Morgan.

A jazz festival but not just for jazz fans

Let me widen the deep green circle of envy that surrounds holders of tickets to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (CTIJF) beyond lovers of jazz. The annual sellout event is a diverse musical feast that mixes styles and expands genres in delightful and surprising ways that would please anyone who likes music – or even just good times.

Tom Misch’s description-defying set at Bassline on Friday night is a perfect case in point. To talk about the beat-infused, soulful, hip-hop-inspired sounds in a meaningful way one would want to include the words jazz and funk – and there were definitely nods to house and even vague hints of techno – and many more sounds that I don’t have words for.

The Edge magazine makes a better effort: “Chipmunked vocals, slap bass, jazz guitar, G-funk synths, a breathy sax, trip-hop beats, hand claps, a string quartet, steel drums, maracas…”

Bassline is one of two outdoor stages, and a slight breeze on a cool Cape Town evening added to the sensory delight. Spectacular visuals mirrored playfully on the bridge above the stage and enhanced the feeling that we were at an intimate club gig.

Misch’s set was over way too soon for anyone’s liking, we were just getting started. Expect to hear a lot more from this 21-year-old British instrumentalist and composer who really is just getting started.

Making movies and memories

I remember when Mango Groove was just getting started, something that a majority of their audience at the Manenberg stage wouldn’t be able to say. It was surprising to see many youngsters singing along to the old favourites from this iconic band who seemed to define the spirit of the times in the early nineties.

Two and a half decades later Claire Johnston is still bouncing around the stage belting out those soaring vocals. The distinctive sound of the pennywhistle helps take us back to that time when this 11-piece band burst onto the scene with its distinctive combination of pop and township jazz seeming to connect township and suburbs in a way that filled us all with hope.

Another performer who represents a specific melting pot moment in time is Tresor, pictured, who was up on Bassline later on Friday evening. The South Africa-based instrumentalist, singer, and composer from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a living, singing, dancing reminder of the rich culture that our porous borders and lax immigration control has bequeathed us.

Like so many of his countrymen Tresor, an orphan, made his way to South Africa and worked as a gardener, car guard, and security watchman while fighting for a break, in his case into the music scene. Seven years later he seems to be well on his way to the galaxy where he belongs, having won a Sama award and opened for British superstar Seal.

He oozes confidence and sex appeal in his black leather trousers and pilot-style sunglasses. Move over Tom Cruise – and you too, Michael Jackson.

En Vogue on the Manenberg stage at just after midnight were a fitting closing act on a night that had taken the audience through time and around the world a little. The original “funky divas” from America danced, strutted, and belted out hits, old and new, in a stonking set that would make Madonna look a little tired (and totally wore me out).

One could swear the three ladies haven’t lost an ounce of sex appeal and relevance since their debut album Born to Sing in 1990. They have gone on to sell more than 20 million records and can still set fire to a dance floor.

I will resist looking back sadly, however. It’s true that they don’t make them like they used to and etc but the embarrassment of riches of young talent at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival helps with the nostalgia. On that score, let me get ready for tonight’s opening act, the Chris Hani High School band.

– African News Agency (ANA)

A little something my friends put on

All About That Jazz: Small act. Big hit!

geraldlabiaI defy you, dear reader, to find one person (well one who has amounted to anything) who thinks there is anything better than watching a bunch of your friends raising the roof putting on a jazz show at a theatre in your neighbourhood. Go on, I dare you: Ask everyone at your local tonight.

I bet you wish it was you who trotted down to the Labia Theatre and watched Gerald Schreiner (vocals) and friends light up the night.

Everyone has those friends, the guys and dolls who are dentists and used car salesmen by day, strippers and singers by night. Only some of us can say we have seem them tearing up the boards in The Theatre!

vegasNext stop … Vegas

Gerald can count us as fans as well as friends after tearing into many classics and ruining none. It takes a courageous man to fearlessly tackle everyone’s favourite song! I couldn’t help thinking that he took Nina Simone (God rest her soul) to another level.

Gerald was more than ably supported by his co-host Emile Minnie (keyboard and vocals), David Bolton (drums), Warrick Moses (clarinet) and Johann Botha (base).

We are all hoping for an encore … and don’t mind travelling to Vegas for it!

Simphiwe Dana: Queen of the night

SimphiweCloseSimphiwe&ThembaIt would have been very difficult to actually upstage Simphiwe Dana on the last night of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, but if anyone could it would have to be the legendary South African guitarist Themba Mokoena.

Even when sitting down Mokoena, who is in his mid-sixties, seemed to struggle to keep his feet on the ground. Hugely popular with Dana fans, Mokoena’s passion is obvious, which makes him a delight to watch as well as to listen to. That said, the night belonged to Dana, who seemed at times to be renewing vows with a packed house of dedicated fans.

Dana arrived on stage complaining about nerves and quickly launched into Bob Marley’s Redemption Song. Singing mostly unaccompanied, the intensity of this song seemed to banish her nerves. Her version was more like gospel than reggae and gave at least one member of the audience gentle shivers of pleasure down the spine.

From there she slowly turned the heat up until the room was crackling with energy. The crowd erupted every time she started one of her own hits, and sang along approvingly when she covered other South African classics, such as Miriam Makeba’s super infectious Aluta Continua.

It seemed more personal than political when she noted the importance of the #RhodesMustFall movement and urged young people to continue their fight with “passion, honesty, and integrity”. She also urged South Africans to make more of an effort to integrate with the rest of the continent.

She underscored her point with a lovely cover of Malaika, the Swahili song written by Tanzanian Adam Salim in 1945 and made globally famous largely by Miriam Makeba’s recording.

Dana&fanThe conversation between Dana and the audience flowed throughout the show, which ran for nearly two hours, making a large, packed hall feel very intimate.
At one point she asked if anyone would like to join her on stage and five people ran up. Each of them did a little dance for the audience, one of them literally dancing until he dropped or, rather, until he fell backwards coming out of a very high kick. That didn’t seem to knock him off his stride for long though, he was soon back up lifting Dana off her feet a big bear hug.

Despite a little competition from fans and the unstoppable Mokoena the night really was the gorgeous Simphiwe Dana.
– African News Agency (ANA)

As irresistible as it sounds

ladies of the midnight blue

Ladies of Midnight Blue starts out gently, playfully. Two women drumming. It is rhythmic and somehow hypnotic, you follow them down the path. The beat speeds up faster and faster, two people with so many hands on the drums. You are in a trance, you would follow them anywhere. Next thing you know it is you beating the drums with the energy and rhythm of a beautiful stranger.

I thought this Afro-Latin percussion and brass duet – Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Surielis – who play instruments as if they were an extension of their body, might start a riot. They could certainly have done so but they were just too focused on making love to the songs, the instruments, the audience to start any trouble.
LadiesMidDrumsLadiesMidnight1Every part of their bodies seems to want to take part, as does every part of ours. Sanders is whispering sweet nothings into her trombone, her feet tapping their own beat and her thighs squeezing a drum between them as if to coax other sounds out of it. Surielis, meanwhile, is a steadying influence, appearing to hold the space and the rhythm like someone holding the string of a kite flying wildly and gloriously on a windy day.

There is one more chance to see Ladies of Midnight Blue at the National Arts Festival, at 7pm on Saturday. After that, the ladies will be running a number of workshops. For more information and tickets go to www.nationalartsfestival.co.za

– African News Agency (ANA)

Grahamstown: Curtain’s up!

AloesA short-ish drive (130km) from Port Elizabeth airport to Grahamstown is just perfect to re-calibrate heart and mind, aka get one in the mood, for the National Arts Festival, which opens on Thursday and runs until July 10.

The road to Grahamstown from the airport that most locals, students, actors, producers and a selection of international talent scouts use to access the town is beautiful in a truly South African way, that is to say it makes one feel a little uneasy, even maybe just a tad heartsore.

There is something about the Eastern Cape that feels at once familiar and brand new. To so many people the heartland of South Africa, this region always makes me feel that I can see what I call my memories of the future, that bitter-sweet mixture of nostalgia and hope.

The hills and koppies are scorched and dry, yet the aloes are everywhere and bright fiery red in full bloom. Parts of the road are absolutely world-class, feeling super smooth and safe. But then of course there are the roadworks, evidenced by backed-up traffic, blocked off lanes and lines of men and women in the sun waving red flags to slow motorists. By the time one arrives in Grahamstown you are reminded that this place beats to its own drum.

The university town and its 70,000 full-time residents welcome tens of thousands of fans of the arts from all over the world every winter at the biggest annual celebration of the arts in Africa. The National Arts Festival is a truly international, world-class affair, but it is also a quirky little number, quite unlike anything else in the world.

The 11-day programme comprises drama, dance, physical theatre, comedy, opera, music – including plenty of jazz, art exhibitions, film, student theatre, street theatre, lectures, a craft fair, workshops, tours and a children’s arts festival.

FirebirdThursday’s hottest ticket seems to be Janni Younge’s production of The Firebird, which opened for a very short run in Cape Town at the weekend. Described as a “thrilling multi-sensory journey”, the combination of dance and puppetry is on in Grahamstown before heading to LA for a run at the Hollywood Bowl no less.

As if there was not already magic enough in the Russian fairytale about the glowing bird, this production uses giant puppets and features dance which has been infused with tribal rhythms and more than a nod to African folklore. Younge – of the Handspring Puppet Company – has set it to Stravinsky’s original score. Choreography is by Jay Pather.

Performers in this production include Jackie Manyapelo, Craig Leo, Shaun Oelf, Beren Belknap and Zandile Constable. Costume design is by Birrie le Roux, with lighting design by Mannie Manim.

The National Arts Festival is an important platform for new and groundbreaking artistic work such as Firebird; it also has a long history as a forum for political and protest theatre, especially during the apartheid era.

LadiesMidnight

Ladies of Midnight Blue

Ladies of Midnight Blue, showing on Thursday afternoon, an Afro-Latin percussion and brass duet, look likely to resonate with the protest theme. They have performed all over the world at festivals, charity benefits, peace rallies and protest marches.

The ladies, Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis del Carmen Suriel, “facilitate music workshops that focus on community building and raising awareness concerning issues of inequality on all levels”.

Their foot-stomping music, powerful and upbeat combinations of percussion, brass, vocal chants and mbira arrangements inspires dancing and calls for audience participation … and might even start a riot.

Firebird and Ladies of Midnight Blue are just two of so many shows, but one must not think about the fact that to choose a show means to miss so many others.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Transforming the African musical landscape

BozzaIn a stroke of creative mastery, a media company that is set to transform the music scene in Africa has helped a diverse group of African musicians create a hauntingly beautiful piece of music without ever meeting one another.

The nine artists, who were all carefully selected by the media company Bozza out of more than 200 applicants from across Africa, collaborated entirely over WhatsAPP.

From later this month Bozza will enable these and other artists to sell their music directly to fans using mobile wallets. This will allow music fans who don’t have internationally acceptable credit cards to buy content online. Importantly, it will also cut out the middleman, meaning artists will no longer get just a small share of the money their music generates.

The haunting beauty of the track, We Are One, which seamlessly combines languages, styles and traditions, belies the complexity of the process.

Last year Bozza put out a call for submissions for the project to its base of more than 10,000 African artists and the nine were chosen. They did not meet up, but created strong bonds through WhatsApp, chatting and sharing files as they collaborated to produce a single piece of music that represented them all.

The artists have totally different styles, from hip hop through rap and kwaito to traditional music. Some of the artists are up and coming in their countries with little experience or training, others are already established as icons in their worlds.

MumbaRTP

He of the haunting voice: Zambian singer Mumba Yachi

Mumba

Mumba Yachi: folk-rooted music resonates strongly with his African roots

Zambian singer Mumba Yachi, for example, grew up steeped in musical tradition with a variety of influences. His mother sang in church while his father was a fan of various African artists, including Franco Luambo, Makaidi and Fela Kuti, as well as reggae legend Peter Tosh.

Determined to become an artist, Mumba learnt how to play the guitar at 16 and has gone on to become one of Zambia’s most beloved artists. His music has earned him recognition by the United Nations Development Programme.

Mumba’s music, folk-rooted with nods to Afro beat and world music, resonates strongly with his African roots and his values, from respect for nature to the importance of the continuing emancipation of women.

Bozza, which has established itself as a showcase for African talent, will be enabling artists like these to sell to fans anywhere in the world. Artists frequently get a raw deal, taking home a very small share of any revenues their music generates. This will soon change when Bozza introduces new payment options for consumers all over the world wanting to buy African music.

Bozza will this month roll out a service enabling artists to sell their content directly to fans, including those who do not have a credit card that is accepted internationally. They will be able to use mobile wallets, the predominant form of mobile payments in Africa, to buy content online.

The company has been working with international online services to sell the work of African artists, but said: “It often gets lost in the noise of the big names who dominate these marketplaces.”

Bozza’s online platform serves US and European markets, as well as African markets that demand contextually relevant content. Music is delivered to mobile devices including older feature phones. The company can distribute music and videos to any connected device, including more than 3,000 types of mobile phones, not just smartphones.

Emma Kaye, Bozza founder and chief executive, said: “Mobility has huge socio-economic, educational, commercial, societal and individual significance. Emerging economies have been hugely resourceful in using mobility in socio-economically important ways, to empower musicians, filmmakers and poets.

“By embracing mobility as a content delivery platform, emerging countries or continents can leapfrog developed economies, establishing a unique societal brand in a vibrant new industry.”

Bozza looks set to become the eBay for African music and film.

Listen to We Are One

Musician’s biographies:

PlayIconScarlet Mwana O Kondwela, singer, songwriter, poet, blogger and performing artist from Zambia

The oldest of seven sisters, Scarlet grew up in a musical family, with her father playing guitar and her mother singing. Her earliest musical memories are of the jazz her father used to listen to.

A linguistics and literature graduate, it was taking part in a reality talent search that started her on her journey with the mic. Her debut album, Unforgettably Yours, was released in 2012.

Scarlet is a youth ambassador in a programme run by the U.S. embassy in Zambia, a member of the Lusaka hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers initiative and a brand ambassador for the Kayula Childhood Cancer Foundation.

She describes her music as “an eclectic mix of jazz, soul, Afro beat and funk sitting on catchy melodies and carried by strong vocals … a yummy mixture that we like to call Afro funk music”.

PlayIconSeun Olata, composer and Afro fusion performing artist from Nigeria

Seun, the co-ordinator of ExTasI band, has built his musical canon within a variety of contexts, from dance through therapeutic to hymnal and choral.

Seun describes his band as “uncommon thinkers who are also recording artists, scholars and directors [who are] set on a phrenic and theosophic quest that stretches music beyond aural sensibility into the threshold of touch, sight, taste and smell”.

Albums to his credit are Home Made (2006), Farewell (2013) and Free Spot Show-Live (2015). Seun hosts a weekly live music show, the Free Spot Show, at Freedom Park in Lagos, Nigeria.

BlaQ2sdayBlaQ2sday, eclectic band from South Africa

Winners of MTV’s Kick Start My Band Into Gear competition 2015, BlaQ2sday switches confidently between genres, from jazz through trap and electro to hiphop, house, funk, rock and dubstep.

Founded by Tshitso Makunyane and Mkhulu Tshabalala in 2011, BlaQ2sday was later expanded to include Pitso Mofokeng, Molefe Sefatsa and Thabo Moralo, who started as the band’s photographer but is now a percussionist.

Dedicated to live performance, the band describes itself is “oozing inspiration to keep on creating what makes the world go round: music!”.

PlayIconMumba Yachi, folk singer from Zambia

Mumba Yachi grew up surrounded by music. His mother used to sing in church and his father was a fan of various African artists, including Franco Luambo, Makaidi and Fela Kuti, as well as reggae legend Peter Tosh.

Mumba, who learnt to play guitar at 16, was determined to be a musician. He is now one of Zambia’s most beloved artists and has been recognised by the United Nations Development Programme, having been selected to be a music ambassador for the HeForShe global campaign that encourages men and boys to be part of the cause to empower women.

Mumba’s music, rooted in folk with hints of Afro beat and world music, resonates strongly with his African roots and his strong sense of humanity, touching on topics close to his heart such as respect for nature to the emancipation of women.

PlayIconRheebongs, South African rapper and producer

Cape Town-based Rheebongs started writing and rapping in 2003 after falling in love with hip hop during his high school days.

The co-founder of M4M Records, an independent record label aimed at grooming and training upcoming artists from Cape Town, Rheebongs is considered as one of the pioneers of Spaza music.

Rheebongs was recognised by Bozza.mobi, which offered him a digital distribution deal, making him one of the first hip hop artists from Cape Town to release music digitally.

PlayIconMaureen Lupo Lilanda, Zambian Afro jazz singer and songwriter

Maureen, who started her musical career as a teenager, has 35 years in the music industry and five albums to her name.

She is backed by Ashilile, a band of six instrumentalists that plays a fusion of traditional Zambian and western music.

Maureen has collaborated with and shared stages with a wide array of artists, from the Malmo Symphony of Sweden to Baaba Mal of Senegal, as well as Seal.

Among many awards and accolades, Maureen has won CEO Africa’s Most Influential Women Awards for Arts in Zambia and the SADC region.

BuntuJobelaBuntu Jobela, South African singer

Buntu Jobela, pictured, who hails from Cape Town, is a self-taught artist who has developed his work from spoken word to hip hop.

This very talented young man is gaining a significant following with his powerful work, which is layered with thought and meaning.

Not a lot is known about him but he is certainly building a following.

This talented young man is tipped is one to watch!

PlayIconTeasar, Jamaican-born Nigerian ‘musical hustler’

Teasar was born in Jamaica to Nigerian parents, which makes for a rich combination of musical influences.

The self-taught artist started making music at 11. Now, as the Nigerians say, he hustles his way in the music scene and works with great sound engineers and producers, creating music played in clubs.

PlayIconNgoma, hip hop artist from Cameroon

The hip hop recording artist and songwriter Atanga Schneider Ngomah aka Ngoma’s love for music began at a very young age, his parents and four siblings providing an early audience.

His unique sound combines local sounds from the 90s with contemporary urban style, with rap in four languages – English, French, ‘Pidgin’ English and Ngemba (his native tongue) – adding to the mix.

– African News Agency (ANA)