Mzantsi awards to cel­e­brate jazz in SA

Nom­i­nees, young and old, show the rich her­itage of the genre

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MPILETSO MOTUMI @mane_mpi

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.

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