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First Artists Announced


Alistair Izobell has been mesmerising audiences since he played the role of newspaper vendor Broertjie in Taliep Petersen and David Kramer’s District 6 - The Musical, as a nine-year-old in 1986.

Three years later, as a member of Ricardo and Friends, he was invited to perform Children of the World at the infamous World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo. The song was chosen as the National Anthem of UNICEF and they were special guests performing alongside the likes of Stevie Wonder and Bonnie Tyler.


In the following years, Izobell has worked with some of the most successful of South Africa’s recording artists such as Brenda Fassie, PJ Powers, Dr Victor & the Rasta Rebels and Walk This Way. He was one of the lead vocalists for The Rockets for three years and has worked on several successful musical theatre productions.


The title track of his first solo album, Venus, still receives regular airplay more than 20 years since its release and is regarded as his signature tune. Today Izobell is a sought-after producer, songwriter, comedic MC and musician with eight albums to his credit. His latest CD offering, Just Me - Net So, was released to popular acclaim.

AMANDA BLACK (South Africa)

Raised in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, Amanda Benedicta Antony goes by the stage name Amanda Black.  The singer/songwriter sings in a mix of English and Xhosa, describing her music as Afro-soul with a fusion of hip-hop, a bit of soul and R& B. She often adorns her face with white stipples of Xhosa face paint as an expression of her roots.


Black took part in three editions of South African Idols before moving to Joburg at the beginning of 2016 to pursue her music career. The singer/songwriter achieved recognition in 2016 following the release of her hit single Amazulu, off her debut studio album, also named Amazulu. The song gained nationwide rotational radio airplay and earned her nominations in five categories at the Metro FM Music Awards, where she went on to win Best R&B Single and Listener’s Choice Award.  She also bagged Album of the Year, Best Newcomer of the Year, Best Female Artist of the Year and Best R&B Soul Reggae Album and was nominated in the Record of the Year category at the 2017 South African Music Awards.


GrazRoots Project is the brainchild of composer/arranger Billy Monama. The guitar teacher’s research into uniquely South African guitar styles alerted him to a disappearing culture.  The mix of Mbaqanga, Mgqashiyo, Maskandi, African jazz and more, inspired Monama to invite musicians to revisit and preserve a musical art-form that kept people singing through difficult socio-political times.

Themba Mokoena (guitar), McCoy Mrubata (saxophone and flute), Mduduzi Mtshali (piano), Concord Nkabinde (bass guitar) and Paki Peloeole (drums) represent a mix of old and new - in the 1960s Mokoena was part of the generation of musicians who developed the sound of Marabi and African jazz while Mrubata has played with everyone from Hugh Masekela to Lucky Dube. Mtshali is a sought-after album producer, while Gogwana’s Xhosa-tinged jazz compositions make him a favoured collaborator with local artists. Drummer Peloeole is much in demand as percussionist while Nkabinde was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz in 2006.


Monama often works as musical director for the Vuyani Dance Company and released his debut album, Rebounce, in 2016.


Blinky Bill (Bill Sellanga) is a Kenyan musician/producer/DJ and founding member of forward thinking art/music collective ‘Just a Band’, with whom he has released three albums.


He is an alumnus of the US State Music Program One Beat Music (2013) and participated at the Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo in 2014. Blinky Bill released a debut solo EP We Cut Keys While You Wait in 2016 and is currently in studio working on full length album Everyone’s Just Winging It and Other Fly Tales - supposedly a mix of Afrofunk, hip hop, jazz and electronic.


For the 2018 CTIJF Blinky Bill will collaborate with producer/composer/DJ Sibot (Simon Ringrose).

The Cape Town-based artist has played a pivotal role in the emergence of electronica as a real force on the national and international music scene.


Sibot’s influence goes back to early 2000s when he collaborated with the likes of Waddy Jones (Ninja from Die Antwoord) Spoek Mathambo and Markus Wormstorm. These releases off iconic label African Dope, helped carve out a new sound in South African underground electronic music, which paved the way for much of what exists today.


Vocalist, songwriter, producer, Claire Phillips hails from Belhar, Cape Town. She began singing as a toddler and taught herself to play guitar, piano, saxophone, drums and bass guitar.


Nowadays Phillips leans more towards the guitar as instrument of choice, but it is her unique voice that makes her stand out. Phillips’ first foray on to the professional stage was as a cover artist, but she quickly built up a repertoire of original, self-penned work.


She became the first female South African artist to win a South African Music Award (SAMA) for a debut album when Say My Name won the Best R&B/Soul album category in 2007. Her second album was released in 2012, named By Request because of the number of people who kept on asking for her next CD.


Phillips played at the CTIJF for the first time in 2014, where she met one of her idols Jill Scott, and she has opened the stage locally for international stars such as Joe McBride, Diane Reeves and reggae icon Eddy Grant. Currently working on her third studio album, Phillips has started playing tracks off her next offering such as Holding On which features Capetonian hip hop artist Youngsta.


From Leeds, England, singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae released her self-titled debut album in 2006, which debuted at number 1 in the UK (the fourth female British act in history to do so) and number 4 in the USA.  The album features global hits Put Your Records On and Like a Star.


Her debut album and her second one - The Sea (2010) - have together, sold more than five million copies worldwide.


She embarked on her first international tour in 2006 with John Legend and played a set at the 5th 46664 concert in Joburg in 2007, but has not performed in South Africa since. In 2008, she won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year, for her work as a featured artist on Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters and in 2012 she won a Best R&B Performance Grammy Award for her take on the Bob Marley classic, Is This Love.


In May 2016, she released her third studio album, The Heart Speaks in Whispers.

Her literature studies (instead of music) at university, shine through in her songwriting, which tends towards narratives examining the trajectory of emotion, perfectly suiting her laid back style of languid enunciation over jazz-informed ballads.

espYOUNGLEGEND 2018 winner - JARRAD RICKETTS (South Africa)

Multi-disciplinarian Jarrad Rickets, has tried everything from performing in art installations to acting, but singing seems to be netting him the most success.


Born and raised in Cape Town, Rickets has carved out a career as an on-board entertainer, performing regularly on the Baltic Sea on the Tallink Silja Cruise Ship. In 2012, he led a six-month solo show while based on Menorca Island, Spain, performing at theatres and hotels.


Locally, he has leveraged a corporate events career, playing a mix of covers and original material, that has garnered him a popular following across the country.  He was one of the cast members of David Kramer’s Orpheus in Africa, which was first performed at the Fugard Theatre and created and performed in music show Cape Town Crooners at the 2017 Suidoostefees.


Rickets was crowned the winner of the third annual espYoungLegends 2018 competition. This is what garnered him a billing at the 19th annual CTIJF. Rickets’ self-penned single New Life is currently receiving extensive local radio air play.

JORDAN RAKEI (New Zealand)

Born in New Zealand, Jordan Rakei’s family moved to Australia when he was three-years-old, but he still identifies as New Zealander and attributes the country’s music, along with classic pop and R&B from the United States as a major influence.


The 25-year-old’s assured soulful, jazz, hip-hop driven sound draws not only on his skill as a vocalist but as a multi-instrumentalist. At 18 he self-released his debut EP Franklin’s Room in 2013 via Bandcamp. The 2014 EP Groove Curse received strong support from North America and Europe and Rakei made the pilgrimage to London where the self-confessed introvert, forced himself to throw himself into the music scene.


His debut album Cloak (2016) propelled him to tour across Europe, the UK, Asia and Australia.

Getting to know the South London dance scene led to the EP Joy, Ease, Lightness in 2016 under the alias Dan Kye.  Signing to the Ninja Tunes label, he travelled to the US for a 2017 tour in support of his latest LP, the left-field soul album Wallflower.


Keenan Ahrends is a jazz guitarist and composer who started playing at the age of 15. He completed his jazz performance studies at the University of Cape Town and the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2009, and has further studied with Jon Eberson, Wayne Bosch, Eckhard Baur, Alvin Dyers and Andrew Lilly. He has played internationally in Norway, Sweden, Reunion and Nigeria, and is a regular participant at South African jazz and arts festivals.


Cape Town born, Keenan recently relocated to Johannesburg.  There, he has collaborated with established musicians such as Louis Moholo, Feya Faku, Andile Yenana, Carlo Mombelli, Afrika Mkhize, Herbie Tsoaeli, Buddy Wells, Mark Fransman, Shane Cooper and Kevin Gibson.


In February 2017, Keenan released his debut album, Narrative. 


With personal influences of grunge and rock from his teenage days, a passion for free improvisation, a love for deeply toned ballads and a resonance with the roots of traditional South African sounds, Ahrends brings a fresh energy to the local jazz scene that pays homage to and respects, his roots, but is still inimically his own.

LOUIS MOHOLO - MOHOLO presents 5 BLOKES 1 DOLL (South Africa)

Legendary drummer, Louis Moholo Moholo presents Kyle Shepherd (piano), Shakeel Sohail-Gibran Cullis (bass), Siya Makuzeni (vocals and trombone), Nhlanhla Mahlangu (saxophone) and Abraham Mennen (saxophone).


Born Louis Tebogo Moholo in Cape Town in 1940, Moholo formed The Blue Notes with Nikele Moyake, Chris McGregor, Johnny Dyani, Mongezi Feza and Dudu Pukwana in the early 1960s. After migrating to Europe in 1964, and an eventful trip to Argentina, he stayed on in London. There he formed part of a South African exile community that made an important contribution to British/European Jazz.

With more than 100 recordings and a discography that stretches back to 1962, Moholo remains in demand not only from his peers, but a younger generation.  His first album under his own name, Spirits Rejoice, is a classic example of the combination of British and South African players.


In 2004, he was awarded the South African national honour - the Order of Ikhamanga Silver - for his achievement in jazz, contribution to developing music in South African townships and defiance of apartheid laws by forming a multi-racial group.  Moholo returned to South Africa in 2005 and now resides in Langa.

MABUTA (South Africa)

Mabuta is the new live band offering from award-winning bassist and composer, Shane Cooper.


Formed in 2017 by Cooper, the group features some of South Africa's top jazz musicians including Bokani Dyer (piano and synths), Sisonke Xonti (tenor sax), Robin Fassie-Kock (trumpet), Marlon Witbooi (drums) and special guest Reza Khota (guitar).


Shane Cooper was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz in 2013 and won a South African Music Award for Best Jazz Album of the Year in 2014, playing with his quintet that year on the CTIJF stage.

This new quintet are all old friends. Dyer (son of Steve Dyer and himself Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2011) often joins Cooper for live Card on Spokes performances (Cooper’s electronic music band). Dyer often plays with Witbooi and Cooper on his own trio and Fassie-Kock’s quintet also features Cooper on bass.  Xonke’s recent debut album, Iyonde, also features Cooper.


Multi-award winning Khota and Cooper got acquainted as part of Babu as well as in The Reza Khota Quartet. Mabuta's sound will draw from jazz, world music and electronic music influences and their debut album is due for release in February 2018. 

MI CASA (South Africa)

Formed in 2010 and based in Joburg, MiCasa are lead singer/songwriter J’Something (Joao Fonseca), producer/DJ/keyboardist Dr Duda (Sipho Phillemon Mphahlaza) and trumpeter Mo-T (Moshe Kgasoane).  Their vibe is soulful house and live performances are energetic and fun.


Over the past seven years, the trio has played sold out shows in 31 African countries as well as Portugal, the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Canada.  Achievements include playing at US President Barack Obama’s inauguration; being nominated for MTV EMA’s Best Africa Group and Best Group in 2016; and three MTV Africa Music Award Nominations for Artist of the Year, Best Group and Song of the Year (Jika).


The song Jika, was the number one most played song in Africa for 13 weeks. They are the recipients of five South African Music Awards, including Best Duo Group, Best Dance Group and Record of the Year.


Mi Casa released their 4th studio album, Familia, in August 2017. Collaborations with the likes of C4 Pedro, Yemi Alade and Kenyan favourites Sauti Sol show that the band are in tune with the musical pulse of Africa and 2018 will see them embark on a Legacy Tour across Africa.

MILES MOSLEY (United States of America)

Miles Mosley is an upright bassist, vocalist, producer, composer and arranger.  As a teenager, he played bass for the Grammy All-American High School Jazz Band & Choir, then studied at the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles, receiving his undergraduate degree in music at UCLA.


Since then, the Californian has expanded his repertoire to master the bass and a vast array of instruments, blending jazz with rock, funk and R&B. He successfully combines bow work, pedal effects and an, ‘in-your-face’ dexterity that has created his unique signature sound - .a blend of jazz, soul, funk and rock.


A founding member of the acclaimed collective, The West Coast Get Down, Mosley has released albums containing his own solo work plus recorded and toured with artists such as Lauryn Hill, Jonathan Davis (Korn), Kendrick Lamar, India Arie, Chris Cornell and Common. His newest project with West Coast Get Down drummer Tony Austin - a duo called BFI - is best described as a mix of soul and rock.


In 2016, he signed a multi-album deal with iconic label Universal Music/Verve Label Group and embarked on a world tour in support of his latest album, Uprising.


Hailed as the father of Ethio-jazz, Mulatu Astatke became the first student from Africa to enrol at Boston Berklee College of Music, where he studied vibraphone and percussion in the 1960s. His first two albums - Afro-Latin Soul, Volumes 1 & 2 were virtually indistinguishable from other Latin-jazz records released in 1966, but some tracks foreshadow his later work.


In the early 70s he brought this new sound, which he called Ethio-jazz, to his homeland while still working in the US. He recorded in New York and Ethiopia, with Yekatit Ethio Jazz, being the album that strongly demonstrated his skill at creating a hybrid sound drawing on traditional Ethiopian music and American jazz, funk and soul.


The Ethiopian civil war of the 70s, forced many Ethio-jazz luminaries to flee their country and by the 80s his music was largely forgotten outside of his home-country. Fortunately, early 90s record collectors re-discovered his work with the first Ethiopiques CD reissue to feature a single artist being Astatke.  Ever since, Astatke has not only been sampled extensively by hip hop artists, but he has worked on bigger and bigger collaborations and performances around the world.


Born into a musical family to a pianist mother and guitar-playing father, Nduduzo Makhathini took to music naturally. He got his first taste for performing thanks to one of his father’s isicathamiya groups, while his mother made sure he was steeped in the life of choirs and church music.


Makhathini became the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz 2015 just days before he launched his first two albums, Sketches of Tomorrow and Mother Tongue, conceived at different times but released together.


His third album, Listening to the Ground was nominated for best jazz album at the South African Music Awards in 2016.  Album number 5, Inner Dimensions, won best jazz album at the 2017 SAMA’s as well as best traditional jazz album at the Mzantsi Jazz Awards 2017.

Makhathini is adamant that his is improvised music, rather than just plain jazz.  The name of his newest and eighth album, Ikhambi, reflects his belief that songs can lead to healing. Ikhambi means herbal concoction.

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