African talent to take centre stage at SXSW in Texas

South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, USA is an 11-day film and interactive media conference, as well as one of the largest music festivals of its kind in the world.  First held in 1987, 2016 will see the festival celebrating 29 years of existence. 

South African rapper K.O will perform at SXSW in the US. Photo: www.sxsw.com
South African rapper K.O will perform at SXSW in the US. Photo: www.sxsw.com

Offering a unique convergence of original music, independent films, and emerging technologies, SXSW is one of the world’s premier destinations for discovering and launching new creative content. This year’s festival takes place between 11 and 20 March, which the music component taking place from 15 to 20 March.

No fewer than 13 African stars have been invited to showcase their talents at this year’s event.

South African rapper K.O (aka Ntokozo Mdluli) will perfect at SXSW on Friday 19 March. The rapper recently took to social media to announce the news.  “Being tasked with representing your country on such a huge platform is, in fact, a tall order, but as an artist who's waited all his life for such a momentous opportunity, I’m determined and know I will excel on that stage. This is literally a launching phase for my brand and SA hip-hop in the US and the idea is to make an indelible mark for us to be able solidify our presence that side,” said K.O.

A host of other exciting talent from Africa is also due to perform.  These include KO’s compatriots Black Motion and the trail-blazing Petite Noir (aka Yannick Ilunga), who returns after a sold-out show at SXSW in 2014.

From Kenya, this year’s SXSW will showcase reggae artist King Kanja (aka Kanja Muchoki) and innovative crew Cosmic_Homies O.N.E. From Nigeria, Davido will join smooth operator Iyanya and singer Temi Dollface (aka Temitope Samantha Phil-Ebosie)

From Ghana, meanwhile, SXSW will see live performances by Stonebwoy, who over the past year has staked his claim by taking home countless awards, including BASS Awards, 4Syte Awards, Ghana Music Awards and the international BET Awards. Also representing Ghana at SXSW this year will be rapper/producer E.L, alongside Afro-Trap pioneer Dex Kwasi. UK-raised Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG, three-time MOBO Award winner for Best African Act will be bringing his ‘Azonto’ dance moves to the Texan crowd.

Cape Verde’s Elida Almeida, recent winner of the 2015 RFI Discoveries Award, will also be showcasing, as will Noura Mint Seymali, one of Mauritania’s leading musical exports.

Besides showcase performance by these Africa stars as well as hundreds of other artists from all over the world, SXSW 2016 will host a number of Afrocentric panel discussions and interviews at the Austin Convention Center.

On Thursday 17 March there will be a panel discussion titled ‘Nigeria's Music Industry - Ready & Open 4 Business’, which will address the ongoing challenges and opportunities faced by Nigeria’s burgeoning music industry. The panel will feature experts such as Ike Onuorah (Strictly Entertainment), Michael Ugwu (Sony), Ubi Franklin (Made Men) and Nigerian-American entertainment lawyer Uduak Oduok.

On Friday 18 March, Grammy-winning artist Angelique Kidjo discusses her music and various humanitarian efforts with Ann Powers from the influential National Public Radio (NPR). Also on Friday 18 March, SXSW hosts a special discussion on ‘How Five Cities Propelled Modern African Music’. Hosted by influential New York producer and music industry figure Rab Bakara, the talk will explore how Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, Luanda and Pretoria are setting the template for modern African music.

Other interesting panel topics include ‘Threats on the Horizon: From Terrorism to Hunger’ (13 March) and ‘Slavery in the 21st Century: What Role Do You Play?’ (14 March). Another discussion, titled  ‘Virtual Reality: From Empathy to Action’ (15 March), will feature extracts from the film Inside Impact: East Africa, which follows the Clinton Global Initiative’s work in Kenya and Tanzania.

Of course it’s not the first time that African artists are showcasing at SXSW. At last year’s conference, a special ‘Sounds From Africa’ showcase featured the likes of Nigerian stars Davido and Ice Prince, Ghanaian heavyweights Sarkodie, R2Bees and Samini, as well as Serge Beynaud from Ivory Coast.

For more details, visit the SXSW website.

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