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jazz laddies

New concert celebrates South Africa’s female icons

Coming shortly after Women’s Month in South Africa, a new celebration of South Africa’s leading ladies of jazz is being launch. The Women In Song Legacy Concert is a one-night-only affair and will take place at the Emnotweni Arena in Nelspruit, South Africa on Saturday 12 September.

The festival celebrates the legacy of the iconic Dorothy Masuku and Abigail Khubeka, as well as the 18th anniversary of the Ladies In Jazz ensemble, one of the first and few all-female bands in South Africa.

Performing artists at the event include Dorothy Masuku, an international icon, role model, artist, mother, composer and singer who composed many of Miriam Makeba’s best-known songs. Masuku rose to fame in the 1950s, her voice evoking global acclaim, and has seen her compositions catapult many South African artists to fame. The history of the contribution of black women musicians would be incomplete without the story of Masuku, who is turning 80 during the month of September.

Accompanying Masuku will be fellow veteran singer and actress Abigail Khubeka, who was discovered and mentored by ‘Mama Africa’ Miriam Makeba and in her own right has gone on to enjoy an outstanding international career.

The organiser of the concert tour, Ekhaya Creatives under Anikki Maswanganye, has put together a formidable array of artists, both singers and instrumentalists, to pay tribute to the two living legends. Also on the bill is Lerato Mothapo, an accomplished singer who will raise high the torch inherited from firebrand singers like Makeba and Masuku. She will be joined by rising star Solace Can, who will perform a new arrangement of the Masuku-penned ‘Pata Pata’, which was made popular by Miriam Makeba, who loudly proclaimed her support for the civil rights cause and fight against apartheid.

Laying down the grooves will be the Ladies In Jazz ensemble, which was was formed back in 1998 by Anikki Maswanganye (drums) and Thandi Mahlangu (lead vocals and percussion). Today Ladies In Jazz has grown to include Zodwa Mabena (bass), Sankie Motsei (piano), Lesego Nkonyane (saxophone) and Thope Diniso (guitar). Founded on the premise of empowering and uplifting women, using music and social activism as a tool, the collective’s popularity has soared over the past few years, leading to performances throughout the Middle East, including Syria, Israel, Palestine, Egypt and Jordan. Later this year they are set to perform at a jazz festival in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Maswanganye, the director of the upcoming concert, explained: “This festival is more about retaining and celebrating the heritage of our music, where we see the need to celebrate our legends, especially female musicians, while they are still alive. We strongly believe that in doing this, our tradition and ways of song will be passed onto the youngsters in order to help them understand the roots of our music and also to keep the music industry alive. This is to say that as women, for women, we need to embrace one another, create jobs for one another and appreciate each other.

What make this concert tour exceptional is that it brings together different generations of women ranging from ages 80 down to 28. We see this as making a historical event and as a note to the music industry, that as women, ours is to celebrate and uplift each other,” added Maswanganye.

The Women In Song Legacy Concert will take place at the Emnotweni Arena in Nelspruit/Mbombela on 12 September 2015. Ticket prices range from R150 to R350 and are on sale now from Computicket.