On Wednesday evening, 1 October, for one-night-only, one of South Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most admired and respected musicians – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse – is set to perform at The Lyric Theatre, Johannesburg, in a special, single performance, affair.
Titled Timelessness, a name coined by Mabuse, the show will tip its hat to the masters, taking fans on musical journey filled with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, performances.
2014 is a momentous year in Mabuse’s 50-year career immersion in music. Not only is it his golden anniversary of his unwavering commitment and contribution to South African music, it is 30 years ago his now 500 000 copy-selling single “Burn Out” changed the face of shape of Afro-pop and township jive like no other song or artist in pop music history.
From his first group, Harari, through to his stellar solo career that spans the better part of his adult life, Mabuse’s Lyric Theatre reveal is going to be jam-packed with so many hits and memories, beyond “Burn Out”, that “we might not be able to fit it in,” he jokes.
Beyond competent and hugely applauded, the magic this musician makes is practically impossible to pigeonhole. Drummer, flautist, alto flautist, pianist, saxophonist, kalimba player, timbale and African drummer, Mabuse’s raw ability and talent know no limit!
His name became synonymous with township jive nearly three decades ago, and today his live performances still present the master’s art as the stuff of legend.
As the musical ambassador for South Africa, performing in virtually every country in Africa and touring the US, England, France, Germany and Italy, amongst many more, Mabuse’s recorded and produced the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri and Sibongile Khumalo.
Head out to The Lyric Theatre, at Gold Reef City, and come celebrate the multiple anniversaries with his friends, peers and contemporaries. Expect tributes, tears and Timelessness aplenty as Sipho”Hotstix” Mabuse unpacks, retells and delights the night with songs that remain as perpetual as the master maker himself.
Tickets are available from Computicket.co.za or call: 0861 915 8000 or click on link below
MUSIC EXCHANGE, South Africa’s premier music, film and entertainment conference, returns for the fourth time in 2014. The three-day MUSIC EXCHANGE program opens on Thursday 6 March 2014, and will culminate with a fitting tribute to one of the worlds, and this country’s finest musical exports, Dr Trevor Jones on Sunday 9 March 2014.
Since its inception in 2009, MUSIC EXCHANGE has served as a catalyst between the artistically anchored worlds of entertainment, film, music, academia, and the distinctly gifted men and women who feed, and are fed, from its many disciplines.
Three jam-packed days filled with the most committed and talented people in the entertainment industry today, MUSIC EXCHANGE is passion personified on a multitude of levels. “It’s a family of like-minded and hardworking people,” MUSIC EXCHANGE founder Martin Myers confirms. “Included in that mix are artists, composers, national and international advocates, film producers and public relations and entertainment specialists, Brand and Image Consultants and Music legends the calibre of Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse. It’s always humbling and incredibly rewarding to be responsible for bringing so many amazing people together. All with the same aim in mind – empowerment and growth of the many critical contributors to our entertainment economy.”
Cape Town’s beautiful and richly historic City Hall will welcome patrons, investors, musicians, students and peers, and play host to the three-day heavyweight assembly. The first 48 hours, of the 72-hour emersion, will be filled with keynote addresses, lectures, collaborative breakout sessions and multiple opportunities for all present to actively participate and contribute during the conference phase.
The original motivation and intent behind what MUSIC EXCHANGE is today is that of being a platform where future collaborations are formed and opportunities created for emerging and established artists. “This extends to anyone and everyone touched the many aspects of the creative process,” Myers adds. “MUSIC EXCHANGE provides artists with practical tools and insights into the workings of the music, film and entertainment business’, in order that they’re better equipped to make a success of their specific careers. And that’s made possible thanks to the investment made by the expertise of the industry leaders MUSIC EXCHANGE attracts.”
The fourth and final day of MUSIC EXCHANGE 2014 promises to be extraordinary thanks to the motivation of music icon Dr Trevor Jones. Post workshops and master classes, conference delegates will get to share in a showcase like no other. In association with Cape Town’s City Parks, MUSIC EXCHANGE will stage both emerging and established artists on a platform built expressly to celebrate the rich and diverse career of the composer, arranger, producer, musician and proud South African.
Moving from City Hall, south to the foot of Table Mountain, De Waal Park, in Vredehoek, will play host to a closing concert the likes of which the city, and country, has ever seen thanks to MUSIC EXCHANGE‘s Ambassadors Tribute Concert to international film composer Dr Trevor Jones.
“We believe that utilising public spaces will benefit both the City of Cape Town, and all of the artists Involved,” Myers says. “MUSIC EXCHANGE‘s ultimate aim is to bridge the cultural divide, and ensure the integration of cultural diversity and inclusivity, through music and cultural exchange. The more that happens the greater the reward to us all. Our closing concert will be a fitting confirmation of what MUSIC EXCHANGE continually looks to achieve and strive for.”
Tickets to MUSIC EXCHANGE are available now through Computicket , Shoprite and Checkers outlets countrywide, online at www.computicket.com, or by calling 0861 915 8000.
An Internationally awarded Hollywood film composer.
Top producers and songwriters of commercial music.
Top performing South African and international artists.
Licensing and collecting agents.
Various revenue streams hosts and agents.
Top music advocates and lawyers.
Top executives involved in digital distribution.
Physical distribution specialists.
Publications and media executives.
Sound engineering academies.
Concert promoters and festival organisers.
Live Music venues managers and owners.
Touring – current acts touring South Africa and globally.
Recording studio owners and managers.
Top brand executives.
International record label executives.
Top image consultants.
Top South African retailers.
Electronic dance music executives.
Key print and online media specialists.
The MUSIC EXCHANGE board members are:
Martin Myers–Founder of Music Exchange / Owner of Triple M Entertainment
/ 17 years working with SONY BMG.
Sipho “Hotstix“Mabuse–SAMA Lifetime Achievement Winner and 46664 ambassador.
Dr Trevor Jones–International award winning film composer. Trevor‘s collaborated with the likes of David Bowie, Sting, U2, Sinead O’Connor, Charlotte Church, Britney Spears and Elvis Costello, and has also been invited as a jury member for BAFTA, the Mercury Music Prize and the International Film Festival of Flanders, Ghent.
Professor John Rowett–CEO of the Rhodes Trust, and the creator, in partnership
with Jakes Gerwel, of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation). Former Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, where he developed, with African colleagues, the more than eighty-billion-rand programme, ‘Renewing the African University‘.
Advocate Nick Matzukis–CEO of the Academy of Sound Engineering.
As celebrities brush shoulders in a Joburg hotel lobby, Percy Mabandu speaks to Sipho Mabuse about his forthcoming tribute to his two favourite jazz giants
To attempt a sit-down with Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, the iconic producer and multi-instrumentalist whose genius helped shape South Africa’s musical identity since the 1970s, is to mimic a day at the proverbial lekgotla.
Each piece of insight gleaned from his chatter and every second sip of tea shared are punctuated by a notable well-wisher wanting to declare their admiration.
Mabuse is billed to headline this year’s Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in Newtown, Joburg, next month. He has chosen to dedicate his set at the festival to the memory of two late South African greats, Zim Ngqawana and Bheki Mseleku.
We meet at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank, which easily becomes a hive of activity and a site of what appears to be a day of important encounters.
First in line is radio presenter and CEO of Business Arts SA, Michelle Constant. Her departure is followed by a spell of focused conversation. It involves Mabuse explaining the thinking behind his chosen theme.
“For me, it’s more than just about profiling jazz or Zim Ngqawana. It’s actually about raising the consciousness and the psyche of our society about our musical wealth. I felt that this country has not yet paid homage to many of our musicians who’ve made tremendous contributions to who we are: the likes of Allen Kwela and Mackay Davashe, to mention a few,” says Mabuse.
He indicates that he chose Ngqawana and Mseleku because of his personal closeness to them and he felt strongly about them.
But the choice comes with a touch of controversy among the jazz police. Mabuse’s career as a musician places him outside of the popular perceptions of people who qualify to honour these two modern jazz masters.
Mabuse launched his walk along the musical path with an African soul group called The Beaters in the mid-70s. The group toured Zimbabwe and returned so inspired by the land and its people that the trio – Mabuse, Om Alec Khaoli and Selby Ntuli – renamed themselves Harari.
Mabuse and his band drew on funk, soul and pop musical styles, which they delivered in Sesotho and isiZulu. As far as his credentials as a producer go, the 62-year-old maestro counts the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri of Stimela and Sibongile Khumalo among some of his those he’s worked with.
As a performer, his name resonates more with the jive experience of party music than the spiritual lift of Ngqawana’s songbook or the intellectual rigour of Mseleku’s repertoire.
1980s superhits like Burn Out and Shikisha are only two examples. But Mabuse understands where the chips are stacked. “I don’t consider myself a jazz musician, but I’m a lover of jazz music. I’m transcending section barriers,” he says.
Mabuse further offers a framework built around his understanding of Ngqawana’s.
He begins by describing the late composer’s music as being about building a consciousness of who we are as a people.
Further, he offers: “What was special for me about Ngqawana was that there were no boundaries to who he spoke to. He was gracious and open. He was kind and encouraging.”
Then we are interrupted by his phone. It belts out a ringtone of Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder singing Ebony And Ivory. It’s a call from home, which he cuts short on account of our chat.
But it is only followed by another welcome interruption. This time it is Mamphela Ramphele, the academic and businesswoman turned leader of the newly launched political party, Agang.
She manages a steady stride towards our table, extends a hug and a set of warm platitudes about how we have a great country that we all need to work hard to build. She leaves and we take off on the subject of Mabuse’s credentials.
How will he answer the jazz police and those who make controversy of him climbing the jazz bandstand, with the legacy of two exceptional jazzmen in tow?
He shoots back: “The basis of my music is classical. I was trained as a classical flute player. I studied under Professor Khabi Mngoma when he was still at Dorkay House. I dropped out because I wanted to be a performer. I was impatient with it. Classical music is rigid. You can’t be studying and gigging at the same time.”
Mabuse is banking on the sincerity of his efforts and the importance of his project to carry the day.
He is yet to finalise his personnel, but is looking at working with people who can share his sentiment about honouring Ngqawana and Mseleku. The gig acquires an even more sacrosanct theme when one considers Mseleku’s tortured experience.
“He came back home ecstatic after independence (the 1994 elections), eager to plough back into the land of his birth. The country had no space for him. So he went back to exile to die,” says Mabuse, with measured emotion in his voice.
Mseleku died in London in 2008 after a struggle with diabetes, financial difficulties, politics and insufficient recognition of his prodigious gift.
Ngqawana passed away in 2011 after suffering a stroke during a rehearsal in Joburg. He, too, was notably appreciated more overseas than in South Africa.
This is part of the burning motivation for Mabuse’s tribute performance.
“I felt we owe it to them,” he says. It is with this sentiment that Mabuse hopes his disco fans will not expect to hear him play regular hits.
Hunching on to the table with his eyes slightly squinted, he says: “I wanted them to understand I’m going to be there paying tribute. I don’t want people coming there, screaming: ‘Come on, play Burn Out!’”
» Mabuse will perform on the Bassline stage on August 24 at 11.30pm