The Performance

Here are some candid shots of a musician before they started performing and one who is performing.

What are the contrasts between the two and what does being a performer entail?

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Where Does Music Come From? Jill Scott’s Answer

2013 Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Three time Grammy Award winner, songwriter and actress Jill Scott

The city of Cape Town played host to local and international musicians at the 2013 Cape Town International Jazz festival (CTIJF). The festival which is in its 14th year featured 39 artists most of whom were local musicians such as Mafikizolo, Zonke, Jimmy Dludle, Auriol Hays, Africa Mkize, Mi Casa, Thandiswa Mazwai, Pu2ma, Ibrahim Khalil Shibab and international artists such as Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club, Kirk Whalum, Chiekh Lô, Gregory Porter and three-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Jill Scott who was the headline act.

Scott performed at the packed Kippies stage on Saturday evening also shared by South African musicians Thadiswa Mazwai and Jimmy Dludlu and the Orquestra Buena Vista Social Club featuring Omara Portuondo. She was supposed to perform last year but her show was cancelled leaving many fans disappointed.

Buena Vista Club
Buena Vista Club

Speaking at a post-event press conference, Scott described the audience as “exceptionally attentive. They were focussed on everything, every second of every minute. When I was quiet they were quiet when I was big they were big. I enjoyed that”.

Scott who describes her music as soul revealed that “every song comes from a portion of my existence and some from other peoples experiences, but I always try to put myself in their position so that there can be honesty”.

Deputy Mayor of Cape Town Ian Neilson said that the festival has grown to become special event for the city and people and it has become one of the most celebrated events in Cape Town. “It brings various artist and diverse individuals from all over the world. Additionally the economic benefits of the festival are far reaching; brings much needed tourism, revenue and most important job creation for locals”

It is estimated that the festival contributes to 489 million rand of the Western Cape province GDP and this figure has increased nationally by 7% from 2010 clearly demonstrating its continued importance to South Africa.

Apart from the economy, the festival “creates a platform for local musicians to collaborate with their international counterparts, and thereby showcase their talent to wider audiences” Nelson said.

Before the festival, there are a series of events that lead up to the festival such as workshops for upcoming musicians a photographic exhibition and a free concert for those who cannot afford the main event. One of the key components of the festival has been the Sustainable Training and Development Skills Transfer programme, which designed to “inspire and develop the next generation of music industry players.

Jazz pop sensation Auriol Hays
Jazz pop sensation Auriol Hays

This year the photographic exhibition featured works by one of South Africa’s iconic photographers the late Alf Khumalo. The two-day exhibition held at the DuoTone Gallery which was at the same festival precinct, was “a fitting honour to Khumalo who enjoyed an unrivalled opportunity to be at the right place at the right time and to capture the history of the countries moments of history. He used his camera an instrument in exposing the apartheid government”.

South African musicians Mafikizolo and Khuli Chana began and ended the festival at Kippies and Baseline stage respectively. Basil “Manenberg” Coetzee, Rosies, and Moses Molelekwa were other stages where artists such as Juan-Luc Ponty, Afrika Mkhize, Mi Casa, Dubmarine among other and the other artists performed. Rosies was a more intimate stage and guests had to pay R30 extra to watch the shows there. Victor Ntoni or Bra Vic as he was commonly known was supposed to be one of the artists performing but unfortunately passed away. Acclaimed musicians such as Herbie Tsoaeli, Arthur Shabala, and Percy Mbonani paid tribute to him; celebrating him and his music at the Rosies stage.

The festival featured artists from Europe America, Brazil, Lithuania, Cuba and South Africa and Senegalese musician Cheikh Lô was the only musician from Africa (other than South Africa)

Lô describes his music as a fusion of Mbalax (pronounced Balach), folk and Senegalese music. “I put a lot of colour in my music because colour is harmony. Born in Burkina Faso to Senegalese parents, Lô formed his band in 1975 and performed with musicians from Ivory Coast, Guinea, Zaire, Congolese and Mali, and played the style of the music from those countries. Senegal is a country whereby Cuban music is popular and Lô’s music is influenced by that.  “Cuban music is my first school of listening”.

Saxophonist Kirk Whalum who is part of a group called BWB featuring guitarist Norman Brown and trumpeter Rick Braun performed for the first time at the festival as a group. BWB taken from their surnames Brown-Whalum-Braun, each have a solo career but collaborated to produce “an easy-listening combination of jazz sounds with a twist of innovative improvisation”.

Speaking about how music culture has evolved over the years Whalum describes it as a boomerang. “I see it revolving back to its African roots. Music that is popular now with young people has a direct connection to Africa or African artists. It makes me feel great as an African American”. He attributes this to the fact that perhaps America has a president with African origin hence musicians are looking back to the “mother” for inspiration and information that will translates in a creative way in their art.

2013 Cape Town International Jazz FestivalTheir first BWB album titled Groovin’ came out in 2002 whereby they redid great cover titles by Alicia Keys, and The Drifters in “a fresh and organic way”.  They have known each other since they were young and respected and loved each other’s music and at one point they were all produced by Warner Bros Records.

“We recorded our music back then with the help of Mark Pearson who was the president of Warner Bros back then; he was the motivating force to bring the three of us together”. In 2013 they came together after requests from fans and had a concept to do a cover treatment of a great artist; Michael Jackson. They decided to do a record with the same “organic twist”, and did some of the tunes they all love such as Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, Beat It and Can’t Help It.  “Its music that everybody knows but we recorded in a way that nobody has heard before”. It will be released in June 18 which will be a week before Jackson’s memorial of his death.

To keep the “organic” feel to the album, the group recorded in the studio with a live band and cut it live. It definitely translated to how they performed at the festival because they travel with the same musicians they recorded the album with. They include keyboardist John Stoddardt, bass guitarist Braylon Lacy, and drummer Hamilton Hardin. “Our mission is to inspire the human spirit individually and collectively. We have grown feeding up from the human spirit we feed off that love and give it back”.

The CTIJF was incepted in 2000 and since then it has grown to be one of the most successful events in Africa. This year over 34,000 thousand people attended the sold out event.

The State of Maternal Health in Africa

A woman and her child outside Lea Toto in Kangemi, Kenya. Picture: Carolilne Kaminju
A woman and her child outside Lea Toto in Kangemi, Kenya. Picture: Carolilne Kaminju

In Malawi one in thirty-six women are at a risk of dying while giving birth, making it one of the world’s highest mortality rate.

According to the World Health Organization, maternal death is described as the “death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy irrespective of the duration and site of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management excluding accident or incidental causes”.

For a long time, maternal health was not given much attention in Africa due to lack of accurate statistics and records.  More recently though, reports have been released that have measured the health situation around the world. According to the report, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2010”, 850 women were dying per 100,000 births in Africa. Some of the causes include severe bleeding after birth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortion.

In the year 2000, in a historic moment, more than 180 countries around the world signed the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’S). Adopted from the the Millennium  Declaration, the MDG’s were set in order to track progress and measure success in the areas of health, environmental sustainability, poverty and hunger, education, gender equality and women’s empowerment. Eight goals were set with the year 2015 as the deadline and maternal health is listed fifth among these. Over the last ten years there has been a reduction of maternal mortality by 41 per cent worldwide.   In 2008, the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) was 640 deaths for every 100,000 births and most of these deaths occurred in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. The MMR is considered low if it is under 300 but the target has been set to 150 by 2015.

According to the Global Health Diplomacy report 2012 Africa accounts for half of all maternal deaths despite the fact that it contributes to 12% of the world’s population. Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), says that the organization  “knows  exactly what to do to prevent maternal deaths: improve access to voluntary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills, and ensure access to emergency obstetric care when complications arise. These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 5.

Recent reports show that maternal mortality has reduced significantly. UNFPA attributes this reduction to the the Campaign for Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa (CARMMA) initiative. It is hoped that by 2015 it will be further reduced by 71 per cent.

Launched in 2009 by the African Union (AU), CARMMA’s  main objective is  ‘to expand the availability and use of universally accessible quality health services, including those related to sexual and reproductive health that are critical for the reduction of maternal mortality’. One of the challenges this initiative is facing is getting accurate statistical figures especially in the rural areas in Africa where not every birth or death is recorded.

A total of 37 countries in Africa have launched the campaign such as Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Angola, Egypt, Burundi, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana and Lesotho which are on track to achieving the MGG 5 goal.

The political commitment in some of these countries has contributed to the significant reduction of maternal deaths. Most governments have increased their percentage expenditure on health.  Rwanda tops the list with the 20% of the government’s budget going to health financing. As a result the MMR is 340 per 100,000 births. Chad on the other hand allocated 3.3% of its budget to health and 1,100 women die per 100,000 births.

Several countries have come up with interesting ways to reduce the number of maternal fatalities. Gambia for instance initiated a campaign that is undertaken by the National Assembly select committee on Health. Headed by the Vice-President, the initiative has partnered with the private sector and civil authorities to ensure the public sensitized.  Countries such as Rwanda, Liberia and Malawi have involved African women in politics to push their agenda forward.As at November 2012, Chad and Somalia recorded the highest number of maternal deaths with over 1000 per 100,000 births.   This is perhaps due to the proportion of births attended to by skilled personnel and the low percentage of budget allocation to health sector by the governments. According to the 2013 CARMMA report, inadequate human and financial resources, poor health infrastructure, high turnover of health providers, religious and cultural barriers are some of the challenges that contribute to the high rate of maternal mortality.

A mother and her child at the Hlengisizwe Community Health Centre in Durban, South Africa
A mother and her child at the Hlengisizwe Community Health Centre in Durban, South Africa

Newly appointed Chairperson of the African Union commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated that this year “in terms of health, the Union will focus particular on maternal and child health under the CARMMA”.

According to a recent report (2012) by the UNFPA, family planning is said to reduce MMR by 33 per cent and reduce infant mortality by half. Apart from preventing pregnancy as a family planning methods such as the condom can reduce HIV infections and will help to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV.

The report further showed that there is a connection between education, high fertility rates and family planning use. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest fertility rates with women having more than 6 children compared to developing countries where the birth per woman is 1.7.  The report also showed the link between reproductive health and economic outcomes. Fewer births mean low child and maternal mortality, improved foetal and women’s health, increased life expectancy, schooling and income.

Why East Africa Will Not Likely Meet Maternal MDG

In summary

  • Reports showed that only Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea in Africa have managed to reduce the proportion of women dying in childbirth by three-quarters.
  • In East Africa, Tanzania and Burundi have made insufficient progress, while Kenya has made no progress at all.
  • Rwanda and Uganda were among the 20 countries in Africa that have made some progress.

East Africa is unlikely to meet the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) on maternal mortality, with a woman in Africa having a 1 in 16 chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, a conference to review Africa’s progress on MDGs was told.

At the recently concluded 2012 Annual African Women Parliamentarians Conference in Midrand South Africa, reports showed that only Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea in Africa have managed to reduce the proportion of women dying in childbirth by three-quarters.

In East Africa, Tanzania and Burundi have made insufficient progress, while Kenya has made no progress at all — the MDGs target Kenya’s maternal mortality ratio going down to 200 deaths per 100,000 live births, but reports by the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey indicate that the country is still recording 488 deaths per 100,000 live births.

Rwanda and Uganda were among the 20 countries in Africa that have made some progress.

Almost 50 per cent of women die 24 hours after giving birth due to haemorrhage, infections, obstructed labour, unsafe abortion or even poor nutritional status of girls and women.

“No woman should lose her life while giving life to another,” said Bethel Amadi, president of the Pan African Parliament during the official opening of the conference.

Mr Amadi said that as elected representatives of vulnerable women and children, parliamentarians should play an oversight role to make sure that there is a budget function that takes care of the health of mothers and children.

The regional director of UNFPA Bunmi Makinwa, said Africa is the second fastest growing region economically after Asia, and in the health sector.

The continent has witnessed a 41 per cent reduction in maternal deaths over the past 10 years. However, nearly 165,000 women die annually in Africa in pregnancy and childbirth.

Mr Makinwa said that extensive use of family planning methods and good midwifery services can reduce the maternal mortality by 33 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.

“Family planning ensures that women who do not want to fall pregnant access services to assist them. If this happens, induced abortions will be reduced. In Africa, more than 40 per cent of maternal mortality comes from abortion,” Mr Makinwa said.

UNFPA says that lack of understanding of the political agenda, poor policies that do not address this issue head-on, and low levels of financial investment prevent the implementation of the MDGs.

Mr Makinwa lauded the Ugandan parliament, which refused to approve the 2012-2013 budgets unless additional money was allocated to health.

The lawmakers managed to secure 35 per cent of the additional funds they were lobbying for, and the money went towards recruiting health workers and increasing salaries for medical doctors.

However, the Africa Public Health Parliamentary Network’s Dr Rotimi Sankore said that investing more money in the health sector is not enough — countries should have good human resource for health, pointing out that Malawi, with a population of 14 million, has just 257 doctors serving them, the majority based in Lilongwe.

Cuba, on the other hand has nearly the same population but has 67,000 doctors.

Caiphus Semenya

Joy of Jazz

Caiphus Semenya

The City of Johannesburg played host to award-winning jazz musicians thanks to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. The annual event, which is in its thirteenth year, takes place in the last week of August in the Newtown precinct and preludes the International Arts Alive Festival in September. The event normally runs for three days but this year an extra show was created on Sunday afternoon after the all the show tickets were sold out.

Over fifty artists were invited to the festival; fifteen of which were international acts while thirty-nine were local artists. They were split across five venues – Dinaledi, Mbira, Conga, the Bassline and the Market Theatre. For those who could not afford tickets to the main stages, there were free shows at Sophiatown, Nikkis Oasis and Shikisha restaurants located within the precinct.

August 23 was the opening night and musicians such as Grammy award-winning guitarist Earl Klugh and French drummer Manu Katche’ were among the two of the four acts that performed at Dinaledi Stage. On August 24, all the five stages featured different artists leaving music lovers spoilt for choice as to which shows to watch. Although most shows started late, at the end of it all most said, “it was worth every cent”.

Dinaledi which means “the stars” in Sesotho, proved to be the most popular with artists such as trombonist Wycliffe Gordon, jazz male vocalist Kurt Elling, the Duke Ellington Orchestra featuring local South African artist Sathima Bea, trumpeter Marcus Wyatt, award-winning guitarists Jimmy Dludlu and Earl Klugh performing.   

Thadiswa Mazwai

Mbira stage named after one of the ancient musical instruments of South and Central Africa, housed artists such as South African solo artist Thandiswa Mazwai, steel pan/drum  player Ken “Professor Philmore from Trinidad and Tobago, vocalist Maysa Leak, Grammy award winner Clarence Carter also known as “Dr CC”, singer and actress Ledisi, Swazi Dlamini and Jane Monheit. Both Dinaledi and Mbira were close to each other and music lovers had to undergo a security screen perhaps because the Deputy President Kgalema Monhlante attended.

Conga stage named after the conga drum – an instrument popularized by African slaves in Cuba, played host to African artists such as Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango, Mory Kante from Guinea famous for his 1987 song “Ye ke ye ke”, South African favorite  musician Caiphus Semenya, French trumpeter Erik Turfazz, Botswana singer Shanti Lo and French drummer Manu Katche.

At the Market Theatre – formerly a real produce market turned an independently owned non-racial theater, saw acts like Gloria Bosman, Cecile Verny, Ochestre national De Jazz, Quattro Fusion, Jonny Mekoa and Lizz Wright performing there.

Africa Mhize, Bakithi Kumalo, Monty Alexander, and Muza Manzini performed at the Bassline.

The soft-spoken award-winning guitarist Earl Klugh who enjoys a great fan base in South Africa, was the main act of the jazz festival. He grew up in Detroit Michigan a place he says was “great to grow up in as a musician since Motown was there”. He performed at nightclubs where he met most of the great musicians such as George Benson and by the age of twenty-four, he was already making his own recording. 

Chicago born artist Kurt Elling had a similar experience. The lyricist, composer, arranger, performer, and Grammy award winner was on his first visit to the continent.

There is an enormous appreciation for his music the world over though he considers himself as “the young in music and the least experienced”.

Kurt Elling

 “It comes from being the youngest in my family because you don’t know as much as everybody else. I came into jazz relatively late.” His father was a church musician and at a tender age, Elling started making up harmonies and singing. “I learned the sense of the joy of music, the way the spirit can be lifted up by music, the way people can be healed by music, and that’s the kind of sense that I hope to continue to bring and share with audiences wherever we go”.

Late saxophone player Von Freeman, Eddie Johnson, Ed Peterson who teaches at the University of New Orléans, drew Elling to jazz. He would go to the jam sessions where these musicians were performing and ‘wait to be called up’ to play with them.

“Before I sang I was anonymous. Then I would sing and all these musicians would put their arms around me and say ‘that sounds great, you need to come back again, you are one of us’ ”. This happened repeatedly, in so many situations and he firmly believes that the musicians gave him his vocation and life. He honors the gift they gave to him by “being true to the music and by being like them”.

Elling is one of the very few vocalise artists. vocalise is an art form in which one takes a recording of a solo jazz instrumentalist, memorizes the recording and transcribes into a lyric to fit the contours of that solo. The contours have echoes in certain places and rhythmic movement in certain that are the signature to that solo or player. He together with Eddy Jefferson, John Hendricks, Ed Ross are among the few that have written like this. This means there is a huge amount of content that is yet to be written about. The art of vocalise is an opportunity for him to “contribute something to a very short lineage of this art form”. He thinks it is very important within jazz and since its only exists in jazz. Elling uses vocalise to introduce audiences to more difficult jazz music without giving them the sense that they should be intimidated by jazz music or they are not part of “the club”.  

 Unlike most musicians, Elling did not attend any conservatory for music but is self-taught. He admits that he understands what he does not know and he misses what he does not know. “I try to catch up with people who went to music school and understand all the ins and outs of what is possible”. Elling, who describes Africa as the ‘cradle of civilization, was on his first visit to Africa and he performed in South Africa for the first time. 

While jazz purists could describe some performances as “pure jazz”, some were fusions of R&B, reggae and neo-soul. One of the challenges the festival organizers have to face is to produce an ‘all jazz festival” in these harsh economic times. Promoters and sponsors have to balance the business side of the festival and at the same time cater for musicians and music lovers of all ages and social class.

According to the Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Mpho Parks Tau, the joy of jazz makes a “valuable and lasting contribution” to the growth of South Africa’s music industry since the musicians get to work with international artist and achieve international exposure.

The first joy of jazz festival was staged in 1997 at the State Theatre in Pretoria, which proved inadequate and hence moved to Newtown Johannesburg. It is produced and organized by Peter Tladi  of T-Musicman.

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