Many African musicians are known to have died poor, even those who in their heyday sold hundreds of thousands of albums. In South Africa, this was the case for musicians like Kippie Moeketsi, Zane Adams and many others.
To fight this sad legacy of destitute elderly musicians, an initiative dubbed the African Musicians Trust has been officially launched.
The African Musicians Trust was first initiated in October 2012. Since then its members have been working to establish the trust’s Mission, Vision Statement and Board of Trustees. With the foundations finally in place, the trust was launched at Kaleidoscope Café in Cape Town on 20 June.
Musician Glenn Robertson was motivated to start the trust because in recent years too many musicians died poor after careers that gave the world iconic music. He told Music In Africa: “After having done a couple of funerals for musicians and seeing the devastation on the families financially, I started thinking of a vehicle which could assist the musicians in order for them to be laid to rest with dignity and to assist the families financially. The Trust has been in my heart since 2000.”
In terms of how artists can qualify for the benefits of the trust, Robertson explains: “It is important that they become members of the Trust firstly, as that will enable us to communicate effectively and also know how many committed members we have when negotiating a product. Many times the products will depend on how many members might want to utilise them.”
Not only for the older generation, the trust also aims to offer training and other opportunities for younger musicians. “This is where we will approach more mature musicians to impart their skill and knowledge to the younger musicians via workshops, master classes, etc.“ says Robertson.
Musicians over the age of 18 can become a member by paying the monthly membership fee of R50 ($3.70). “This will assist us to at least cover the basics – ie. offices, telephones, admin costs - and also to have a cashflow where we can assist when a musician is in dire straits,” says Roberton. “Besides the monthly fee we will have to raise funds ourselves and approach corporate funders for funding.”
The trust held its first Board Meeting for the year of 26 July, which according to Robertson helped to put some further goals in place.
The trust has so far be met with enthusiasm from musicians in the Cape, with names like Vicky Sampson, Frank Cuddumbey, Sammy and Leslie-Rae Webber, Mel Roux, Gregory Smith, Natalie Marinus, Winston Siljeur, Tenille Constance and Terry Fortune already applying for membership.
Looking ahead, Robertson hopes the trust will expand to serve musicians in other South African cities, and as its name suggests, the rest of the continent. “We would like to launch in other cities as well, but we will consider each request or invitation on its merits. Even though it is a Cape Town-based initiative, we are embracing all musicians from all walks of life… We will take that step when the time is right. If the demand is evident and we are ready, we will launch up into Africa."
For more details visit the African Musicians Trust Facebook page.