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Young South African Talent at Joy of Jazz Festival

Nomfundo Xaluva and Lindiwe Maxolo are the bright young South African talent at this year’s Joy of Jazz festival, hosted by Standard Bank at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Nomfundo Xaluva and Lindiwe Maxolo were on the line-up of this year’s prestigious South African Jazz festival. Both shared the stage with a number of other young performers who are ready to make their mark in music.

Vocalist, pianist and composer, Xaluva was asked how she felt about being part of Standard Bank’s Joy of Jazz festival. ‘I am ecstatic about being in this year’s line up. It’s something I’ve been working towards for quite some time now. One has to let one’s work speak loud enough to get such opportunities and I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved some incredible things over the past few years.’

I’ve always wanted to play my music on large stages. The reward of patience is that a lot of people are now familiar with my songs and so I’m looking forward to them singing along with me. They relate to the messages in the music and so it makes the gig experience more meaningful. That’s what makes a festival gig special, I think.

Xaluva started in music with classical piano lessons when she was twelve years old. ‘I studied music formally until I graduated with a Masters Degree from UCT in 2009. Music has always been a discipline for me. I started singing lessons when I was 16. I’ve also been part of the Young Talent on Show at Standard Bank Joy of Jazz National Youth Choir of South Africa. Music has always been a part of my life. I’m an educator as well, so my skills have manifested themselves vastly in music.’

She attributes her jazz influences to artists such as Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughn, Miriam Makeba, and Sibongile Khumalo, among others. ‘I’m also influenced by instrumentalists but I’ve gravitated towards vocalists because they speak to the storyteller in me. The jazz syllabus forced us to study the works of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Wayne Shorter. So, you’ll find their influences in how I speak the jazz language as well. Then, of course, our very own legends, Winston Mankunku, Victor Ntoni and Bheki Mseleku, among other greats.’

Asked what she thinks of the state of jazz in South Africa, she said: ‘It’s so exciting to see that Young people are literally taking over the jazz scene. It’s beautiful. What a time to be a young jazz musician in South Africa right now. The challenges are there, nothing new. But there’s an energy about jazz in the country that is unprecedented. Stereotypes are continuously being broken down. The skills level of jazz musicians is world class. We own the music.’

Jazz Festival
Lindiwe Maxolo. Image courtesy of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

Singer Lindiwe Maxolo was ‘over the moon’ at being able to perform with her sextet on the Dinaledi stage at this annual Jazz festival. Maxolo studied at the Fuba School of Music and at the University of Cape Town, where she received her BMus degree. She is motivated by her children, as well as the learners at Thaba-Jabula High School in Soweto and at Wits University where she teaches.

Maxolo says her concert will comprise of her current repertoire pas well as new material. Her aim as a jazz vocalist is to change the language and the perspectives of jazz in the country. Over the past few months, she has been touring the US and France and is working on a second album. ‘I am also representing South Africa in the Netherlands, for UNISA.’ She adds, ‘I massively believe in education. The status of jazz has been elevated and we have a great future with the current young jazz artists.’

Finally, the astounding young talents join an array of celebrity artists at the Joy of Jazz festival that include international names such as Bob James, Gerald Albright, Deniece Williams, Brenda Russell, and saxophonists Houston Person and José James. Standard Bank Joy of Jazz takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre for three days over four stages – Dinaledi, Conga, Mbira and Diphala – with 38 performances.

For more information on the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, please visit their website.

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