All that Dakawa Jazz: Project provides platform for artists

Budding Eastern Cape jazz artists brought a taste of the National Arts Festival to the dusty streets of Currie Park in Grahamstown with the Dakawa Jazz Series.

The annual music fest features established and upcoming artists and bands in a week-long programme that aims to take them from the Eastern Cape to the rest of the world.

The jazz evenings started on Monday and will wrap up this evening.

The music flagship project of the Eastern Cape department of sport, recreation, arts and culture places young and old artists on par with well-known musicians who are also Eastern Cape products.

Speaking with Saturday Dispatch, sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina said the purpose of the jazz series was to suss out hidden talent in the province.

“When we bring them here, we unearth the potential in them. They are able to market themselves and network with other musicians.”

The Dakawa Jazz Series takes place annually at the Dakawa Arts Centre, a short distance away from the heart of the festival.

Cultural programmes coordinator Ray Qaba said townships were previously neglected from the hype of the festival, but thanks to the series, that is a thing of the past.

“Dakawa has brought the festival into the township. We started on a small scale, but have grown rapidly since 2014.

“We are trying to create a space for our upcoming artists. We don’t want budding musicians to slip through our fingers. We want to take them early on and groom them to international status.”

Qaba said the 2015 and 2016 Dakawa Jazz Series were memorable, and this year is no exception.

“Our shows have been well attended each year. We’ve managed to bring home-grown favourites such as Msaki and Siphokazi to name but a few.

“Last year, Standard Bank Young Artist Jazz winner Siya Makhuzeni was here performing with jazz greats such as Feya Faku and Lulama Gawulana.”

This year, Nelson Mandela Bay musician Lubabalo Luzipho and one of the Eastern Cape’s favourite bands, Mo Jazz, kick-started the week, with artists such as Dumza Muswana, Viwo Kulati, Lwando Gogcwana and bands Lwando and the GrooveMasters, as well as the Imonti Jazz Band, on the line-up, have kept music lovers entertained throughout the week.

The Imonti Jazz Band has been around since the ’80s, and band member Alli Sokatsi said they have no intentions of slowing down any time soon.

“We are grateful to be featured in such a platform for exposure. We wish there could be more opportunities to share the stage with other musicians, and even to take our music and culture internationally.”

Grahamstown jazz songbird Viwo Kulati said: “Performing at the arts festival this year has been exciting because it is my hometown. It was my first time at the Dakawa Jazz Series and I am honoured to have shared the stage with the talented Dumza Maswana. I’m grateful to the Eastern Cape government for this opportunity because it was a chance to introduce Viwo to the audience and share my talent with them.”

Ngqushwa-born Muswana is no stranger to the music hub, but he said he was willing to “drop everything” for the Dakawa Jazz Series.

“I blocked the dates even before I knew which night I’d be performing on. Being invited at home, on a platform created for us, shows that my work is being recognised. I’m delighted and honoured to be part of those selected for this year. I also have a new album, so this is the perfect platform to introduce my music to those who don’t know me.”

Qaba said they’ve had a full house each night this year.

“The main purpose of the Dakawa Jazz Series was to create a platform that gives Eastern Cape artists an experience of the National Arts Festival. We have created an expression for them to perform, and they have excelled. People were amazed. This is definitely a success story. Watch this space.”— nonsindisoq@dispatch.co.za

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