By Ellen Shihepo
Windhoek – Around 2,000 music fans, many from as far afield as Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, thronged the Independence Stadium for the annual Windhoek Jazz Festival on Saturday, November 4.
Hosted by the City of Windhoek, with support from various corporate partners, the jazz festival has become the most popular and biggest music event on the Namibian social calendar.
Last Saturday, loyal fans and patrons were spoiled for choice, as various artistes served up live music throughout the night.
The event commenced early afternoon and ended shortly after midnight. The turnout was great and the entire foreground facing the stage was quickly filled almost to capacity long before sundown.
An excited audience of all ages happily participated in sheer appreciation of the amazing talent that brazed everyone with soulful songs.
The line-up consisted of an impressive mixture of local and international performers that included South African household names – Ringo Madlingozi, house band Mi Cassa and jazz outfit Mane’ Fernandez “Bouncecore” as international guests.
Local artistes were Big Ben, Major 7th ‑ a jazz band hailing from Rehoboth; soul singer William Peterson; traditional Afro-jazz queen – Erna Chimu; celebrated songbird Liz Ehlers, and the brilliant saxophonist, Suzy Eises.
Fortune Nanus from the City of Windhoek marketing could not hide her joy for pulling off another successful jazz festival.
“Very much satisfied indeed. If our fans are happy and they were demanding for more, we can only thank the artists for their performance,” Nanus told The Southern Times in an emailed response about this year’s event.
“The turnout was indeed more than what we anticipated especially looking at the economic situation but we have realised that we have the support of our residents. But we have also attracted a number of people from other countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This just shows that the Windhoek Jazz Festival is a well know brand”.
Suzy Eises once again demonstrated her saxophone prowess during this year’s festival. She has been a regular feature at the Windhoek Jazz Festival having appeared in the 2012 and 2015 editions.
And she still could not hide her excitement for another rare opportunity to share her music with the Namibian public. She further appreciated the chance to share experiences with veteran musicians including Ringo Madlingozi during a workshop that was organised by the City of Windhoek.
“It was a real privilege to be part of the workshop organised by the City of Windhoek for the local performing artists lined up for the show. It was especially great to meet artists such as Ringo and Mane’ Fernandez, who shared great insights and advice about soul music,” she said in an interview.
Eises cherished the opportunity to network with other soul and jazz artists “who have much appreciation and understanding of the art and depth of jazz music”, an area she says lacks real exposure locally.
Eises explained the uniqueness of jazz music and how it “is different from other genres. It’s freedom of expression, it’s soul, it’s deeper than just a song or a show, and it’s communicating and creating art on stage and sharing a new style of music with those listening”.
The young saxophonist is planning to release a self-titled album before or by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the City of Windhoek thanked its partners for the continued support, including Namibia Breweries, Standard Bank, The Glenlivet, Avani Hotel & Casino, Air Namibia, Adforce Namibia and 99fm Radio.
“There is no word of appreciation that will be sufficient to thank the sponsors, they made the Windhoek Jazz Festival 2017 possible and we are thrilled by their support and commitment in seeing this event growing from strength to strength.
“For a company to associate its brand with this festival, it does not mean there is no better investment where they can derive better return on investment but it shows that they see potential in its growth and we promise to continue doing our best to improve the standard of this festival every year,” said Nanus.