South African music is on the move this season. Thanks to the Concerts SA Music Mobility Fund, administered by the SAMRO Foundation, dozens of musicians are receiving extra support for their touring projects, reaching and developing new audiences for live music in South Africa and neighbouring SADC countries.
2014 ended with tours by Frank Paco's Art Ensemble in Mozambique, Tumi Mogorosi's Project Elo in Botswana, and Luna Paige, Josie Field and Laurie Levine throughout South Africa. 2015 starts with national album launch tours by Madala Kunene and Benjamin Jephta. This Mobility Fund is aligned to other activities by Concerts SA to strengthen live music touring circuits in South Africa.
Madala Kunene, known as the King of the Zulu guitar, will be performing material from his forthcoming album. This new release highlights the story of Kunene's family evictions at Umkhumbane in 1959 and how he later met and made friends with the man who evicted his family. The album includes collaborations with Hugh Masekela, Steve Newman and Guy Buttery. Following this theme of forgiveness and reconciliation, Kunene will visit District 6 in Cape Town, where he will collaborate with Vivienne Simchovitz and will perform at three different venues. From the Cape, Kunene will move on to Johannesburg where he will visit Sophiatown and collaborate with Thabo Lepere and Mabi Thobejane in two days of performances at the Afrikan Freedom Station.
Benjamin Jephta, a semi-finalist in the prestigious SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition 2012, has already become one of the premier double and electric bass players in South Africa at 22-years-old. His album Homecoming marks his debut offering as a solo artist. Jephta says: "I want to give the listener a musical biography of my life by using the harmonies and melodies associated with my upbringing. As an artist, I believe one should create music that is significant to you. I have always been captivated by this kind of honesty in the musicians I look up to. It is exactly what I'm hoping to achieve with this album: to move and uplift the spirit. To welcome you, the listener, to my musical home."
Jephta will be presenting Homecoming in Cape Town and Johannesburg with a band comprised of Kyle Shepherd (piano), Sphelelo Mazibuko (drums), Marcus Wyatt (trumpet) and Sisonke Xonti (sax). “The musicians on this album are all artists in their own right! They interpreted the music in a way I could never have imagined and brought the compositions to life. I'm really looking forward to playing with this band again, as a lot of the music has already evolved since we recorded this album," Jephta says.
Initiated in 2013 by the British Council's Connect ZA and the SAMRO Foundation, the Music Mobility Fund offers opportunities for South African musicians to undertake live music-related activities. A total of 16 applications were successful in the 2014 round and are being supported in South Africa and in the SADC region.
Funded by Concerts SA and Connect ZA, the fund is administered by Concerts SA at The SAMRO Foundation. Concerts SA is a joint South African/Norwegian project housed under the auspices of the Stakeholder Hub within the SAMRO Foundation. Concerts SA also receives technical support from Concerts Norway. The project aims to stimulate live music in South Africa by finding and implementing ways to create regular, sustainable performance platforms. It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools.