Golden voices at Windhoek Jazz Festival

 

Windhoek – With hits like ‘Doo Be Doo’, ‘Things Have Changed’ as well as ‘I’d Like’, South Africa’s Afro-fusion band, Freshlyground has established itself as one of the most socially conscious groups to emerge from the African continent.

The outfit, which headlined this year’s Windhoek Jazz Festival, makes music that not only keeps the audience on the dance floor, but also forces one to reflect on life.

At the jazz concert that was held in Windhoek on November 15, the band just swept everybody off their feet with their joyful live music.

Freshlyground lead singer Zolani Mahola blasted out hit after hit with Namibia’s jazz queen Erna Chimu at the event hosted by the City of Windhoek at Hage Geingob Stadium.

Chimu, the reigning NAMAs Female Artist of the Year is well-known for her fusion of Afro-jazz filled with deep, mellow tones and a surprising burst of energy.

Freshlyground was formed in Cape Town in 2002 and draws its members from South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. The group members are: Zolani Mahola the lead vocalist, Kyla-Rose Smith, the violinist and backing vocalist, Simon Attwell, Peter Cohen, Julio ‘Gugs’ Sigauque, Josh Hawks and Seredeal ‘Shaggy’ Scheepers.

They have collaborated with global superstar Shakira on the Official 2010 FIFA World Cup song, Waka Waka.

The band blends elements of traditional South African music, such as kwela and African folk music, together with blues, jazz and Indie rock.

The large crowd of music lovers that attended the festival also got a rare treat from one of Africa’s legends, Afro-pop and jazz singer-songwriter Salif Keita from Mali.

The Malian, dubbed the ‘Golden Voice of Africa’, is globally famous for blending elements of a wide range of local African music such as traditional with jazz, rhythm and blues, and other international popular music genres.

Keita was joined on stage by other singers on the day including Erna Chimu, who could not contain her excitement at sharing the stage with him.

“Salif Keita is one of the greatest of greats. He is an African legend and a voice like no other. When Salif sings, Africa listens. Such greatness is rare and he has always been my idol. He has inspired me and many others,” Chimu gushed.

Meanwhile, Big Ben, one of Namibia’s top live performers, said the Windhoek Jazz Festival challenges local artists to step up their acts. “Anything can happen tomorrow. The band and I will allow our creativity to flow and just let the music take over,” he said.

Other local acts who performed were the soulful and soothing Shishani and Mr Bones. The live band all-girl group Essence, which consists of some of the most talented and versatile female singers in Namibia also entertained the crowd along with Uncle.

The Windhoek Jazz Festival was organised by the City of Windhoek, with the support from Old Mutual, Windhoek Lager, Air Namibia, 99FM, Jameson, Ad Force and the National Arts Council of Namibia.

November 2014
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