Artists gear up for Windhoek Jazz Festival

By Adolf Kaure

WINDHOEK–NAMIBIA’S premier event on the entertainment calendar, the Windhoek Jazz Festival, is set for November 5 at the Hage Geingob Stadium, with a line-up of local and international musicians.

Local musicians lined-up for the annual festival are Big Ben, Fu Jazz Band, Chikune, Suzy Eises and The Swingers Jazz Band. They will share the stage with South African jazz stars Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu and Nathi Mankanyi.

One of recent discoveries in Portuguese music in the recent years Elisa Rodrigues, and young Germany jazz singers, Julian & Roman, will also take to the stage in the 9th edition of the Windhoek Jazz Festival, organised by the City of Windhoek.

Suzy Eises is making a third appearance at the festival after performances in 2012 and 2015.

She told The Southern Times: “Jazz music has a depth and history that is so rich and unique to the world and it’s so important for me as a jazz musician to show that in the music that I play and to share it with others.

“In my opinion, any music should be spiritual and healing and it’s my desire to speak to souls through the music that I play.

“I feel there’s a lot to learn from the international acts. There’s a reason why they are called international and as a musician who hopes to make it international someday soon, I’ve to take notes and learn from those who came before me. I’m excited to be inspired by what they have to share.”

The 26-year-old saxophone maestro narrated her journey as a musician that had a fair share of obstacles.

“My journey has been long, tiring and tough, but more of a beautiful struggle. It’s very challenging being the only performing saxophonist making a career out of music,” she said.

“Sometimes the challenges come because you are a woman, people will undermine you, belittle you or take advantage of you. Other challenges come because there’s envy or dislike, because it can tamper with their career.

“Five years ago, a lot of people never respected my idea of becoming a musician but I feel now that I’m standing on my own independently. A lot of that is becoming more understood.

“This is only the beginning for me. I’ve a long way to go and I’m honestly at peace with myself and where I am as a musician. I wouldn’t have it any other way. As long as God is with me, I’ll be fine.”

Suzy urged upcoming musicians to stay patient and endure all the trials that come with wanting to reach your dreams.

“When you are reaching your highest potential, the adversary does everything and anything to make you believe you can’t achieve greatness. Five years ago, people didn’t take me seriously when I said I would be pursuing a career in music.

“To their surprise, I’ve been doing pretty okay. Now five years later, creating my own music becomes my next big challenge.

“I’ve been patient through all the trials. The people who bring you down are those who pretend and disrespect you and those voices that tell you it’s not worth it. My focus has always been on the life I continue to build. We can use these things to become happy and successful as musicians.”

Suzy performed at the Namibian Annual Music Awards earlier this year and featured with 2015 NAMA Male artist of the year Gazza in a song titled Do it Tonight.

The Swingers Jazz Band’s saxophonist and band manager, Allistaire van Wyk, also shared the band’s excitement at performing at the jazz showpiece.

“For us it’s the ultimate privilege performing at the Windhoek Jazz Festival, as the stage doesn’t get bigger then this platform in Namibia. We’re proud to show off and to give back to our supporters and community for what they have given us for the past decade almost and for what they still continue to give us,” van Wyk said.

“Sharing the stage with some of South Africa’s finest, such as Nathi Mankanyi, Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu will not only add to our experience with the rest of Namibia, but will ultimately motivate us to give strong performances and cherish what music does to us all.”

The Swingers Jazz Band was formed about eight years ago with some original members having moved on and replaced with new faces.

Allistaire van Wyk and Peter Strauss started the outfit with fellow band member Owen Opperman and they quickly started playing along with other musicians. As time goes by the band expanded to an eight piece band.

Their bass guitarist, John Camm, better known as Blare, later died.

This left the band with James Mrulekane on drums, Allistaire van Wyk on the Saxophone, Peter Strauss on rhythm and lead guitars, Berend Doeseb on the keyboards and vocals, Eddy on keyboards as well and John May on main vocals as well as Ghandi Cindi on the bass and vocals.