2016 CTIJF Arts Journalism Public Debate to ‘respectfully remember’ Bheki Mseleku
Cape Town, 24 February 2016 - Every year, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival hosts a free event that welcomes anyone in Cape Town to join in on a debate and discussion as part of the Arts Journalism workshop. Following the overwhelming success of the 2015 debate which was packed to capacity, this year’s event is expected to follow suit, by once again discussing and answering controversial questions within the local arts journalism world. ‘Remembering Bheki’ will explore the life and legacy of the late Lamontville-born pianist, composer and multi-instrumentalist Bheki Mseleku, who tragically died before his time while living in London in 2008. He was only 53 years old. Mseleku's debut album Celebration was nominated for a prestigious Mercury Award in 1991, for which the player received internationally applause. He was praised by the international music world and shared stages with musicians such as Pharoah Sanders, Abbey Lincoln, Kenny Barron and Charlie Haden. John Coltrane’s widow Alice, presented him with the sax titan’s mouthpiece at Newport Jazz Festival in 1977. But after returning to South Africa, he found it hard to secure the respect and employment his stature merited. Why? What is it about the structure of music studies in the land of Msekulu’s birth that allows no space for the contribution of such distinguished creatives? The debate will consider Mseleku’s music, his role in South African jazz history, and the questions surrounding his lack of success in South Africa, with the aim of promoting greater respect and better treatment for our musical greats while they still live, rather than lavish eulogies after their passing. The Arts Journalism Programme Director, Gwen Ansell, will chair the debate, with guests including music writer Percy Mabandu and other South African musicians who share Mseleku’s spiritual approach to creativity. From the UK, flautist and composer Eddie Parker – who played with Bheki on the album Celebration and in many live performances – will share his memories of the musician and those collaborations. The public event, ‘Remembering Bheki’ takes place on Wednesday 30th March between 13H30 – 16H00 in the Opera Bar, Artscape. The event is free but space may be limited, so please email email@example.com to reserve places. The official sponsors for the 17th annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2016 are: the Department of Arts and Culture, Independent Media and PRASA.