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Summarised Artist biographies.


Madala Kunene (guitarist) has been described as ‘having a single-minded and uniquely unconventional

nature.’ Despite being born into a family of academics, school didn’t feature highly in his life, beginning his busking career on Durban’s beachfront at the ripe age of seven. 

He made his first guitar out of a cooking oil tin and fish gut for the strings, and very quickly became a popular performer in the townships. In the early seventies he started to perform as a professional artist playing in variety of styles. Discovered by Sipho Gumede, Madala went to work in Johannesburg, where he considered himself privileged to share the stage with such luminaries as Doc Mthalane and his band, Songamasu, Shor Philips, MankunkuNgozi and Busi Mhlongo. Encouraged by his friend DuzeMahlobo, he revived the 'Madalaine' style of guitar playing, combining blues & soul with African folk, and developed the trance - like quality of his Zulu folk singing.  Madala has steadfastly refused to give in to commercial whim, “I want to be myself, to play the kind of music that comes from within me."  Kunene draws his influences from Zulu folklore and culture and with wit and clarity, relates traditional Zulu folk tales preserved for posterity.  Madala Kunene now performs to audiences around the world. 



The Mahotella Queens is a South African female group formed in 1964 by music producer Rupert Bopape. Originally a studio recording group consisting of around five or six singers, the current line-up of the Queens comprises Hilda Tloubatla, NobesuthuMbadu and Amanda Nkosi who joined the line-up in 2013 on the retirement of Mildred Mangxola. The group is noted for their distinct vocal harmony sound, guitar-led mbaqanga music and fast-paced stage dancing.  Celebrating their golden jubilee in 2014, the group has had hit singles throughout their illustrious career.  Their international breakthrough came in 1987, in the wake of the success of Paul Simon’s seminal Graceland album. Interest in “world” music exploded and the international community sat up and started taking serious notice of South African indigenous sounds. They have toured with many great names and in 2010 they appeared in Pee Wee Ellis’s show Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown, and toured the UK with Hugh Masekela the same year. In 2013, the Queens proved that they have their finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary music, recording a modernised version of Gazette/Kazet, one of their best-known hits, with singer Zamo and kwaito star Brickz for the MTN8 football tournament.

What keeps the Mahotella Queens going strong after five decades – and making music with such apparent effortless ease? Says Hilda: “I guess we are true musicians – born musicians – we’re talented! We’ve got the spirit of true musicians, hence we know how to go about a song, how to do a song.



Melanie Scholtz is an award winning jazz singer and composer. Playing piano since the age of five, she went on to study classical singing at the Eoan Group before completing an Opera Diploma Cum Laude at the University of Cape Town in 2000. Melanie has released five albums as well as collaborating with many South African and international jazz artists. In 2012, Melanie won all three prizes in the prestigious Jazz Revelations competition as part of the Jazz a Juan Festival held in Nice, France. She was invited to be part of the festival programme in 2013 and continues to tour internationally on a regular basis.  Her latest offering, Our Time, speaks of heritage and ancestry – an answer to the call to receive the baton being passed down from one generation to the next.  Produced by Bokani Dyer, fellow Standard bank Young Artist award winner, the album features a stellar array of amazingly talented musicians, among others, Shane Cooper, Benjamin Jephta, Marlon Witbooi, KissangwaMbouta, GormHelfjord, John Hassan, Justin Bellairs, James McClure, Siya Charles, Riccardo Morretti and Jitsvinger.

This album draws from old and new. Ranging from Motown, to Jazz to Hip Hop, creating a Neo South African hybrid. The addition of Cape Town born MC extraordinaire, Jitsvinger, solidifies the awareness of paying homage to where we come from as young South African artists.  “A new generation with a new sound, born out of pride and celebration for who we are and who we will become. It’s our time now….”


NAIMA KAY (SA)   Twitter: @NaimakayZA

Afro-jazz sensation Naima Kay, born Lungile Khumalo, is a 2014 South African Music Award (SAMA) ‘Best Newcomer’ award winner. Discovered by Touch Africa Records, at a jazz festival in Port Shepstone in 2009, where she grew up, her stage name “Naima” is an Arabic name meaning ‘peace’.  An inherently ‘shy’ person, she expresses herself through her music and released her debut album, the 12-track Umsebenzi, early last year, which she says both young and older people can relate to. “I write about love, life and things that happen around us. There’s also a gospel song on the album.”  She has been writing songs for other artists, including her brother, DJ Sammy for many years, but has fully stepped out into the limelight, to embrace a musical career.  She attributes her influences to her brother and 83 year old grandmother, and being in church which inspired her to write the debut song Lelilanga which achieved significant airplay and led to her award.  Her vocal range is wide and encompasses a spread of melody that gives her a unique and ‘quality’ sound that both pleases and soothes the ear and confirms she is indeed a star in rising.



A SAMA Lifetime Achievement Award (2005) and with numerous industry accolades, the ‘Gentle Giant of SA Music’ wears many hats – entertainer, businessman, father and care-giver to many. From Carnegie Hall, New York to Newtown, Johannesburg, when "Hotstix" hits a stage, the world sits up and listens.  Born in Johannesburg in 1951, Mabuse began playing the drums from the age of 8 – the instrument that garnered him the nickname "Hotstix”.  He has mastered many more instruments – flute, piano, saxophone, kalimba, alto flute and Aftican drums among them.  He began his career as a professional musician at the age of 15 forming the band: The Beaters, which evolved to become Harari.  In 1978 the group performed in the USA with Hugh Masekela and subsequently supported and backed Percy Sledge, Timmy Thomas, Letta Mbula, Brook Benton and Wilson Pickett on their South African tours. This eclectic ensemble was impossible to categorise; mixing funk and disco with jazz, while also using traditional African instruments to create a completely unique sound. They were the ultimate party band, splitting in 1982 with Mabuse going onto a long and successful solo career that continues today. In 1985, he released probably his single most important hit, Burn Out, which became South Africa’s first crossover hit.   After a ten-year sabbatical, he released the album Township Child in 1996, catapulting him into international stardom where he remains. 

The founder and owner of the famous ‘Kippies’ jazz establishment after which one of the stages at the CTIJF is named, Mabuse has had a career spanning 50 years.  He continues to perform but has also devoted a significant part of his life to philanthropic works and supporting local causes and is a regular commentator and contributor to debates around arts & culture, with board positions on The National Arts Council and SAMRO (the South African Music Rights Organisation) as well as now Chairman of Music Exchange.



Sons of Kemet are a British jazz group formed in 2011, made up of Shabaka Hutchings (founder, saxophone and clarinet), Oren Marshall (tuba), SebRochford (drums) and Tom Skinner (drums). Their music is an eclectic mixture of jazz, rock, Caribbean folk and African music.  The band won 'Best Jazz Act' at the 2013 MOBO Awards and in September2013, released their debut album ‘Burn’, which received a variety of awards and nominations, including the Arts Desk 'Album of the Year 2013' and a nomination for Gilles Peterson's Album of the Year. Sons of Kemet’s unique and infectious take on jazz, using its twin percussion element, is earning them a loyal following wherever they play.  Beyond the impressive credentials of the band members, it is the raison d'être of the group that explains why it has made a sizeable impact in its short life span. There is a meaningful cultural slant to the whole project with Hutchings in particular, drawing influence from legendary artists Count Ossie and Cedric ‘Im' Brooks to produce the ‘happy island music sound that links to the African diaspora.’

The bands name is derived from ancient Egypt where the last Nubian king was called Shabaka who wrote the ideological principles of the time – the Kemetic Principles –, which have influenced Greek philosophy and expound on universal consciousness, which the band aims to evoke through its musical sound.



Talvin Singh is a multi-award winning Tabla player, electronic musician, music theorist, record producer and DJ, and was acknowledged with an OBE in the Queen’s 2014 Birthday Honours List.   Drawing inspiration from the classical Indian arts, Singh first came to prominence as a tabla percussionist in the 1980s London music scene.  In 1991, he gained notice by both playing tabla and singing on the "Kiss Them for Me" single by Siouxsie and the Banshees : the single peaked in the Billboard Hot 100 at number 23. Singh then became the sixth member of the Banshees and took part with them as second headliners. Two years later in 1993, he was recruited by Björk to be her percussionist and director on her 1993's Debut album.

In 1998, Talvin Singh released his solo debut album, Ok. The record was critically acclaimed and received the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and 'The South Bank Prize' in 1999. That same year, he also collaborated with David Sylvian. In 2000, he worked with Madonna on her album, Music. In 2010, Talvin Singh won an award at the UK Asian Music Awards (UK AMAs) for his album "Commitment to Scene".  Singh is notable for re-introducing the concepts of Indian classical music to western pop, dance and Jazz genres.



The Brother Moves On [abbreviated as TBMO] is a South African performance art ensemble from Johannesburg, Gauteng. The group was founded somewhere between the years 2008 and 2010 by broad-based artist Nkululeko Mthembu. TBMO began as a self-proclaimed art movement mainly of graphic and fine artists and since began incorporating instrumentalists for the live performance environment. The name The Brother Moves On, is a grammatical misconfiguration of The Brother Mouzone, a fictional character in the American television drama series, The Wire. In their emerging stages, the movement interrogated the notion that members were each an impermanent part of the process - hence the derivation of the name, The Brother Moves On. In a review for South African music website, PLATFORM, Kevin Minofu said: 'The Brother Moves On is the most important band in the country' and gave their first full-length album released in December 2013, “A New Myth” a score of 90 out of 100. The album also came in at number 5 on PLATFORM's list of the best albums of 2013.   Members include NkululekoMthembu (costuming, performance artist, visuals), NkululekoMthembu's older brother SiyabongaMthembu aka Mr.Gold (storyteller, lead vocalist, performance artist), their first cousin on their father's side Zelizwe Mthembu aka Makongela (vocalist, guitarist, flautist), Raytheon Moorvan/ Raytheism (vocalist, guitarist, synthesizer), Ayanda Zalekile (vocalist, bassist, multi-instrumentalist), SimphiweTshabalala (vocalist, drummer). As of 2012 Rob Scher joined on saxophone.



A product of the Berklee School of Music, Wallace Roney is an American hard bop and post-bop trumpeter. He has been playing since the age of 16 and earned the admiration and respect of his colleagues and elders in the process.  He is one of the few musicians of his generation who learned and perfected his craft directly from alliances with ‘Jazz Masters’.  His most important and meaningful relationship being with Miles Davis who mentored him after hearing Wallace play at his 1983 birthday gala performance in Carnegie Hall. Their association peaked when Miles chose Wallace to share the stage at his historic performance in Montreux in 1991. After Davis died, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams and Roney banded together and toured the world in tribute. Wallace has played with many of the industry’s luminaries: Tony Williams, Ornette Coleman, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Walter Davis Jr., Herbie Hancock, Jay McShann, David Murray, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Curtis Fuller, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Dizzy Gillespie and more.  

Joining Roney on this tour are Lenny White and Buster Williams.  White is a fusion drummer and acclaimed producer known for his versatility.  He has played with the likes of Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Joe Henderson amongst others over a career spanning more than three decades. He has co-created some of the industry’s most influential music.  Williams (born Charles Anthony Williams) is a Grammy award winning bassist.  With many other awards and acknowledgements under his belt, he has played, recorded and collaborated with many of the giants of the Jazz world including soundtracks for multiple films and television shows.



Zoe Modiga was born Palesa Nomthandazo Phumelele Modiga in Overport Durban, raised in Pietermaritzburg. She attended school at the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where she studied classical piano, clarinet and singing. She is currently doing her third year at the South African Music College UCT, majoring in Jazz Vocals.

This singer, songwriter and performer has been a part of celebrated festivals such as the Aardklop Festival, Artscape Youth Jazz Festival, UCT Jazz Festival, Joy of Jazz and The Cape Town International Jazz Festival. She has shared stages with Gloria Bosman, Matthew Gold, The Kiffness, Breakfast Included, the Frank Paco Ensemble, Mark Fransman, and Marcus Wyatt. She aspires to pursuing a multi facet career where her singing, song writing and performing is challenged, revered, inspired and influential.

Winner of the 2015 Open Mic series, Zoe's undeniable talent and stage presence have inspired festival organisers to up the main prize of her performing at CTIJF free concert to include a performance at the main festival


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