Leading musicians help to close festival on a high note

THE Grahamstown National Arts Festival ended on a high note with performances from the likes of Lira, Hugh Masekela and internationally renowned musical group Kwela Bafana.

The multi-platinum selling Lira performed on Friday night, two days after returning from her American tour and dazzled the crowd with songs from her Feel Good and Rise Again albums.

The legendary Masekela performed on Saturday night at a sold out show.

Other outstanding performances included that of Matthew Mole and South African Music Award winner Nakhane Toure.

While other productions had their last shows last week, the hit musical Kwela Bafana which pays homeage to the 1950s music of Sophiatown, was staged from Friday night until yesterday morning.

The vibrant music of the 1950s kept the community going despite hardships they encountered under the apartheid government.

The musical, starring Velephi Khumalo as the shebeen queen, took the audience down memory lane with music from South African icons such as Strike Vilakazi, Dorothy Masuka and the Manhattan Brothers.

Co-director Phyllis Klotz said she and Smal Ndaba were both crazy about the 1950s.

“It is a golden era of South African music. It was during the time where we saw the rise of the apartheid laws. From the group areas act, immorality act to the bantu education act.

“Despite all of that, people continued with their lives and they had such a great spirit,” she said.

Klotz said the show involved a lot of singing and dancing which was the way the 1950s generation spent their time connecting and forgetting about all that surrounded them at the time.

Although it is set in Sophiatown, she said people from every township in South Africa could relate to what was happening then.

Shebeen queen Peggy runs her business from her mother’s house in Sophiatown but news goes around that black people would be moved to Meadowlands.

“It is a fun show that people love and enjoy,” Klotz said.

The 79-year-old is an original band member of the legendary King Kong musical and leads the band of four young musicians.

Other performances that took place at the weekend were that of Heavy K and Ifani at Prime.

A number of well known DJs also entertained a large crowd of people at the Dlepu Stadium in Joza Location on Saturday night. — poliswap@dispatch.co.za

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