Mzantsi awards to celebrate jazz in SA
Nominees, young and old, show the rich heritage of the genre
THE INAUGURAL Mzantsi Jazz Awards are designed to celebrate the music genre and give it the praise it deserves.
Organiser and jazz enthusiast Mongezi Makhalima said he decided to bring the ceremony to life after receiving constant complaints about the way the genre was being ignored at big award ceremonies.
“I hang out with a lot of jazz people and have a lot of music, and during the awards’ season we would get complaints of how jazz is put on the back burner and not being celebrated.
“About a year-and-a-half ago, we decided to start something,” said Makhalima, who is also the awards’ chairperson.
He said there were three things that they, as the Mzantsi Jazz Awards Company, were hoping to achieve with the awards:
“To recognise the space that it occupies, particularly in our history but also in our lives.
“Also it is about venerating jazz by giving it due praise as an art form that is a valid platform which people can choose as a career.
“Thirdly, it is to celebrate jazz. It has grown in leaps and bounds in this country, especially in the past five years.”
He said when they started the awards’ process at the beginning of this year to see which music was released between April 1 2016 and March 31, they were surprised by just how much music has been released.
“Jazz is the soundtrack of our lives – and during the 1940s and 1950s, when people had to leave the country.
“So there’s a story of how jazz has been telling about our evolution as a people. A lot of the time jazz is seen as an additional piece to other music but it is a important niche,” Makhalima said.
“We also want to celebrate this for years to come,” he added.
Nominees for the awards announced last week, include Nduduzo Makhathini, Dumza Maswana, Mimi Mtshali, Bongani Radebe, Gilbert Mathews, Makhaya Ntshoko and Tete Mbambisa.
Nominations came from music companies, artists and jazz appreciation clubs for the various categories.
“People didn’t believe it at first. They kept asking if this was really happening, but the industry has responded and now we have great nominees.”
The top categories for Best Song, Best Jazz Album and Best Foreign Album are open to public voting. Others include: Best International Collaboration, Lifetime Achievement Award in Jazz, Best Male Artist, Best Female Artist and Best Contemporary Jazz Album.
The awards take place on Friday August 11.