Upcoming jazz festival to promote Eastern Cape and put it on music world’s map

Selaelo Selota will perform at the Eastern Cape Jazz Festival in East London on September 21
Selaelo Selota will perform at the Eastern Cape Jazz Festival in East London on September 21
Image: Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

Within the next five years the Eastern Cape will be a hub for jazz fanatics from all different walks of life. That is East London founder of the Eastern Cape Jazz Festival Mlindi Ntloko’s plan.

Ntloko says the inaugural event, to be held over two days at the East London City Hall on September 20 and Abbotsford Christian Centre on September 21, will set the tone for a festival aimed at reaching the levels of the annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival – and beyond – in a few years’ time.

The inaugural festival boasts some of the Eastern Cape’s most promising young jazz singers and will be headlined by SA jazz legends Sibongile Khumalo and Selaelo Selota.

“The Eastern Cape has a lot of talent, with a great number of talented young jazz singers, so I’ve put some of them in the inaugural lineup to make sure our talent is in the spotlight alongside performers from outside the province,” Ntloko said.

Titi Luzipho, Dumza Maswana, Lindiwe Maxolo, Lwanda Gogwana, Lulama Gawulana, Retsi Pule and Mlungisi Gegana comprise the lineup, and King William’s Town singer Zenazi Msusa will also perform after being voted in by the public in a competition recently held by the organisers of the festival.

“It is quite an honour for me to bring a lineup of both young and old musicians who have achieved so much, and I’m happy to be giving a platform to our competition winner.

“I hope giving her this platform to perform her music will encourage her to continue,” Ntloko said.

The festival on Saturday will be preceded by a memorial lecture by revered SA poet Mongane Wally Serote.

“Professor Serote’s address will be on the contribution of jazz to the emancipation of black people,” Ntloko said.

Serote will be accompanied by the Buffalo City Metropolitan Orchestra.

Initially, the festival was to be a three-day event with a golf day on September 22 at the East London Golf Club.

But due to Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane’s announcement of a provincial multifaith prayer service scheduled for the same day, Ntloko has cancelled the golf day.

The organiser said he wanted the festival to contribute to the province’s tourism industry by attracting guests from around the country.

“I already have guests from other provinces who have bought tickets and will be making use of our accommodation establishments. By the time we reach the standard of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival it will be a bigger boost for our province,” he said.

Luzipho said the festival was long overdue for the province.

“I am excited to be in the lineup because I have travelled the world with my music and I look forward to finally performing on my own home ground.”