South African Music Awards turn 21

Twenty-one represents change - the transition from childhood to adulthood; a chance to do things differently. It marks a point where the influence of the legacy that came before creates the legends of tomorrow. The annual South African Music Awards (SAMAs) celebrate their 21st birthday this year by doing just that: learning from the past to inform a bright new future.

You may have seen the #XXI going around on social networks. XXI represents the number 21 in Roman numerals – and is the number of years the South African Music Awards have been a fixture on the local entertainment scene. Now, as they come of age, the XXI social media campaign highlights the South African Music Awards as distinctive and standing alone with no peer. As a single symbol, the XXI encompasses the notion of “Legacy to Future”.

According to Mika Chauke, the SAMAs' Head of Communications and Stakeholder Relations, “The South African Music Awards turn XXI this year, a milestone that strikes a chord and resonates with us all. The continuous year on year growth, support and popularity has contributed to the improvement in the quality of participants and overall industry growth. The momentum leading to up to SAMA XXI is reflective of the high standards built over the years and achievements of all nominees.”

The #XXI campaign has already attracted an enthusiastic response on Instagram, with celebs and ordinary people posting their nostalgic memories of when they were 21 and nominating others to do the same.

For hip-hop musician Khuli Chana, 21 marked a turning point in his life: “When I was #XXI I was thinking about entering the game. Music was in my blood but I never knew it would be my career. At 21 the seed for my love of music grew stronger…”

It was a similar awakening for J’Something from Mi Casa: “When I was #XXI I had this dream of being a musician… Of being someone that would use the tool of music to change and influence the youth of the world. Now with Mi Casa I have the privilege of doing so every day.”

Kahn Morbee of The Parlotones unearthed an old photo of himself, sporting a head of thick curly locks and wearing rugby kit: “When I was #XXI I played rugby in Northern Ireland for Ards Rugby Club.”

Media personality Melanie Bala has some fond memories of that time, posting a photo of her fresh-faced self rocking a bobbed hairstyle: “When I was #XXI I’d just given up on my dream of becoming a lawyer… I’d been hosting a new music show called Studio Mix for about six months. We replaced Pick a Tune. I shared a flat in Yeoville with a friend and was trying to find my way around Jozi (literally and figuratively).”

These intimate snapshots of days past, says Refiloe Ramogase, the newly elected chairperson of the South African Music Awards, confirm that being XXI is milestone that strikes a chord with everyone. “The South African Music Awards turn XXI – the very same age as our cherished post-emancipated rainbow nation, South Africa” he says. “This milestone creates the opportunity for reflection on where the local music industry is as whole and how far our legacy has come, while shining a bold spotlight on where music is headed in this country. The awards themselves have a solid and respected heritage, and are looking to the future to build on this proud legacy with a renewed youthful vibrancy.”

Join the conversation on social media – rewind back (or fast forward) to being 21 and share your thoughts, memories and ambitions by using the #XXI hashtag.

The SAMA XXI nominees will be announced on Thursday 12 March 2015. Don’t miss the Kia Record of the Year Nominees announcement on Friday 13 March on Live Amp on SABC1 at 21:00 sharp. The annual South African Music Awards are organised by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).

Social media links for SAMA XXI:

  • Website:
  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: @TheSamas
  • Instagram: @SAmusicawards
  • Flickr:
  • Hashtag: #SAMAXXI


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