Summarised Artist biographies.
Jonas Gwangwa (SA)
It would be difficult to find a more accomplished and versatile jazz musician than Jonas Mosa Gwangwa. This South African paragon has thrilled audiences around the world with his artistry as a trombonist/composer and all around creative genius. The span of his musical career and the range of his accomplishments, make it difficult to categorise his talents.A product of the turbulent but musically significant 1950’s, Gwangwa emerged from the humble environs of Orlando East in Soweto to electrify the famous Sophiatown music scene. In spite of the restrictions of the time, he blazed a fiery path in South Africa by establishing and playing with virtually every important band of the era.A prolific composer, Gwangwa also joined forces with George Fenton to create the original score and theme song for Richard Attenborough’s film, "Cry Freedom". The score achieved Oscar, Grammy Bafta, Golden Globe and Anthony Asquith award nominations and won Ivor Novello and Black Emmy Awards.
The Soil is a ‘four’ member acapella singing group whose music can best be described as ‘Kasi Soul’. The first member of the group exists in a spiritual form as The Creator of all, while the other three members of the group take a physical form in the shapes of: Buhle Mda; Luphindo Ngxanga, and Ntsika Fana Ngxanga.Serving as mediums for the songs they believe are channelled to them, The Soil’s music features (in a contemporary township style), an eclectic mix of musical genres such as jazz, hip hop, Afro-pop and Afro-soul). The group’s musical style is evident in its rhythmic vocal bass line, with constant beat boxing - a distinct feature in the music - whilst the remaining voices contribute to the choral and polyphonic accompaniment.Since the release of their debut Album they have won Best Soul artist for SATMA awards 2012; been nominated for The Best Group at the Channel O music video awards 2013 for their video “Iinkomo” ft Zakwe; appointed Ambassadors of 46664 fashion brand while the song ‘Sedilaka is featured as a soundtrack on the movie titled Dark Tide staring Halle Berry. Their international credits include performances this year at the Africa Now festival, Apollo theatre Music Cafe in New York, the Edinburgh Festival, Scotland, and have just returned from Los Angeles.
Jimmy Nevis (SA)
Jimmy Nevis is a 21 year old alternative pop singer/songwriter and producer. Nevis released his debut album entitled "Subliminal" in November 2012 and is still riding the airways with hit singles such as: Elephant Shoes, Heartboxing, In Love With You and Balloon with the Heartboxing video reaching number 1 on the TRACE Urban African Chart in early 2013.In April 2013 Jimmy Nevis joined global chart topping acts: Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Benny Benassi, Alyssa Reid & Kaskade with the signing of an exclusive deal with American record label Ultra Records for distribution in the USA.
Shane Cooper is a bassist and composer from Cape Town. He creates music that has been dubbed as “powerful, not overbearing but accessible” and has been summed up as innovative and polished. In August 2013 he launched his new album 'Oscillations' which featured Bokani Dyer (piano), Kesivan Naidoo (drums), Reza Khota (guitar), Justin Bellairs (alto saxophone), Buddy Wells (tenor saxophone) which was co-produced by Carlo Mombelli.In 2013, Shane was selected as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz and when he appears at the CTIJF in 2014, audiences can appreciate exactly why. In previous years Shane has worked as a member of the bands Babu, Restless Natives, and Closet Snare and as a sideman for artists such as Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Malcolm Braff and others.
Spanning a career of over three decades Carmen Lundy is celebrated throughout the world for her vocal artistry and is highly regarded for her jazz innovation. Carmen is considered as a “classic jazz singer, not retro, but the real deal with an adventurous style and imposing voice” which has led to several Grammy nominations, top ten albums and a number three spot on Billboard’s Jazz chart for 23 weeks with her debut album “Good Morning Kiss”. She has numerous other awards and recognitions including the City of Miami proclaiming 25 January as Carmen Lundy Day. Carmen’s far-reaching discography (12 albums), also includes performances and recordings with some of the jazz world’s best known musicians. As a composer, Carmen’s catalogue numbers over 80 published songs, one of the few jazz vocalists in history to accomplish such a distinction. Her songs have been recorded by such artists as Kenny Barron ("Quiet Times"), Ernie Watts ("At The end of my Rope"), and Straight Ahead ("Never Gonna Let You Go"). She is also a celebrated mixed media artist and painter, and her works have been exhibited in New York at The Jazz Gallery in Soho, at The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, and at a month-long exhibition at the Madrid Theatre in Los Angeles, CA.
AKA - Previously part of the Hip Hop group, Entity, AKA has gone on to enjoy a successful solo career. Winner of The Channel O Music Video Award and 4 X Metro FM Award for Best Produced, Best Hip-Hop, Best Pop Single and Best New Comer, this hip-hop artist continues to notch up impressive accolades. This also includes an appearance on MTV Base Brand New Artist in 2010. Since also being voted by BBC 1xtra to be one of only three African artists to register success in Europe, AKA hasn’t stopped moving on up. After opening up for NEYO in January 2013, AKA’s smash hit, Jealousy, was nominated for a Best Single of the Year and Best Video of the year for the Metro FM awards 2013. He then opened for Kanye West in February 2013 before performing with D’Banj the next week. The same month, AKA performed alongside Kid Cudi at the Blackberry 10 launch and won the Metro FM Best Pop Single at the same time. AKA’s hit track, Victory Lap, released in 2011 was number one for six consecutive weeks on the Metro FM Top 40, making him one of the most sought after urban acts in the country. In September 2011, AKA released his debut album entitled Alter Ego, which features hits including I want it all, Victory Lap and All I know.Da L.E.S (LESLIE MAMPE JR) - Rapper, entrepreneur, trend setting socialite and reality TV star describe 26 year old Da L.E.S, who has already shared the stage with heavyweights such as Kelly Rowland, Rick Ross, T-Pain and 2Face in concerts across Africa. Da L.E.S was born in Washington to South African parents who were studying in the US and returned to South Africa in 1993. His first big step into the limelight came with the establishment of African Hip Hop super group, JOZI in 2007. The group’s debut album Muthaland Crunk earned its first MTV Africa Music Awards trophy (Best Live Performer) in 2008 and was nominated for numerous other awards (South African Music Awards, Metro FM Awards and Channel O Awards). Da L.E.S then launched the album, Fresh2Def - a joint collaboration with fellow Jozi member, Bongani ‘Bongz’ Fassie – and this also became a multi award nominated album. The success of Fresh2Def has earned Da L.E.S the title of being the king of ‘fresh’ in Africa.
Rotterdam singer Natascha Slagtand – Tasha’s World - comes from a musical family and has been influenced by artists such as Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Curtis Mayfield, Donny Hathaway and Quincy Jones. A neo-soul singer, she is a confident vocalist who uses soulful organic sounds complimented by sparse and tough Hip Hop beats. Tasha’s World’s self-titled album was released in Japan in 2001 and in Europe in 2002, when it received rave reviews and voted one of the best albums of the year by both ‘Blues and Soul’ and ‘Echoes’ magazines. In 2004 Tasha’s World released her second album - ‘World Domination’ – and since then Tasha’s World toured the globe with her band giving performances at the London Jazz Café, The North Sea Jazz festival, S.O.Bs in New York, Ahoy Rotterdam with ‘Vrienden van Amstel Live’ and an emotional performance with Eritrean superstar Yohannes Tikabo, to name only a few. In 2007 Tasha’s World took a break from performing and the music industry. During this time, she was asked to be member on the board of ‘Your World’ (Rotterdam European Youth Capital 2009) for which she advised the city council on music projects for Rotterdam youths. Two years ago, she started a new talent development project called ‘Harvest Me’, which provides young upcoming Rotterdam talent with the necessary tools to become professional artists. Inspired by working with young people and being back in a recording studio, Tasha’s World was spurred to begin work on her third album, Blck GLD which was released last year.
Mozambique-born Frank Paco began playing drums, aged 11, using drums that were made from oil canisters - such was the shortage of musical instruments in a war-torn country at the time. From these humble beginnings, Frank’s career has been meteoric and seen him play with some of the greatest names in jazz throughout the world. From the 46664 Mandela AIDS concert to international performances with Jonathan Butler, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ronny Jordan, Monique Bingham and Lokua Khanza, he has also collaborated with Tucan Tucan, Virtual Jazz Reality, Uhambo, Ragga Africa, Jimmy Dludlu (with whom he toured the US and Europe), Moreira Choinguica, to name just a few. In 2000, Frank was invited to record with SA’s top musicians under the Sheer Sound Jazz Label, of which his composition Milagre was chosen for the music video. The album won the SA Music Award for the Best Contemporary Jazz Album and the group was invited to Den Hague to perform at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2001. As a session musician, Frank is featured on 40 albums, ten of which were award winners. He is currently in the final stages of recording his debut album for his band, Frank Paco Art Ensemble, which features some of the finest international and local musicians. In addition to performing live, Frank enjoys teaching and conducting workshops around schools in South Africa. He has also conducted the ArtsCape Youth Mentoring Programme and the MMINO Norwegian Youth Mentoring programme in Hout Bay.
‘No Ordinary Guy’ is the first release off rising local star Mathew Gold’s anticipated new album, ‘The Rush’ and just about sums up this young artist who is making waves and creating a strong fanbase wherever he goes. Skyrocketing off all local radio charts and making number 1 on the 5FM Top 40 and charting on numerous stations around the country, Matthew Gold is one to watch (and listen to). The hip hop-inspired electronic track features multi-award winning SA Hip Hop artist, AKA and is produced by SAMA-nominated, Ben Peters from GoodLuck. Mathew Gold is best known for his smooth and dreamy vocal that propelled GoodLuck’s ‘Taking it Easy’ to being one of the top 10 tracks to come out of South Africa during 2011 and landing him a SAMA nomination for Record of The Year. The buzz around Gold and his new album has caught the attention of major label Soul Candi who have just signed the artist who joins the likes Micasa, Kent, Euphonik, Crazy White Boy, Thibo Tazz and many more on the label’s star-studded roster.
Encompassing the vast rhythmic heritage of Africa, Randy Weston’s musical career has spanned over six decades and continues to inform and inspire audiences around the world with his intelligent fresh synthesis of African elements with jazz technique. The multi-award winning pianist and composer was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1926, he didn't have to travel far to hear the early jazz giants that were to influence him. Weston cites Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Art Tatum, and of course, Duke Ellington as his piano heroes, but it was Monk who had the greatest impact. In the late 1960s, Randy left the States and settled in Morocco and has travelled extensively throughout the continent whose rich musical tapestry continues to influence his work and enthrall his fans.