A global music and arts experience

Words: Nolan Baynes

The Soweto brand is globally recognised and revered for what it represents: history, rebellion, strength, and the perseverance of beautiful people. If one dives under the blanket of the brand, layers beyond the obvious, you’ll find the fuel of Soweto, pure artistic passion, and creativity. It’s that fuel that will live in the inaugural Soweto International Jazz Festival, slated to take place from 14 to 17 June 2018.

Soweto Theatre
Marion Meadows

     The Joburg City Theatres‘ state-of-the-art Soweto Theatre will be the home for the festival. The event will utilise the entire Soweto Theatre compound with indoor and outdoor stages housing some of the most celebrated names in music. South African artists will perform with acts from across Africa, the Caribbean and the US, a symbolic way to celebrate the global potency of the Soweto brand and promote pan-Africanism.
     The objective of the Soweto International Jazz Festival is multi-tiered. Primarily, it serves as an anchor event to help attract pan-African, North American and Caribbean tourism. Also, the festival will launch a mentoring programme for young people seeking to gain experience and skills in the live entertainment business. There will also be an entire day dedicated to the recognition of women with workshops, panels and information exchange programmes.
     The four-day affair is designed to be a pedestal for the fantastic energy of an incredible place with song and art created by rebellious visionaries. Uncompromising talent will be the prominent filter of all the artists. Every alluring component of Soweto’s culture will be on display. The commonality and connectivity that the African diaspora shares will be front and centre. From a vast offering of global cuisines to a vibrant marketplace, fine arts gallery, multimedia station to share the experience across the social media sphere, entertainment business workshops designed to educate and inspire, one-on-one interviews with some of the most compelling minds in entertainment and media. The festival will celebrate the enormous power of women and young people, all set to a soundtrack curated for maximum enjoyment.

Soweto Theatre
Sypro Gyra

Day One (Thursday 14 June)
The festival will launch with a celebration of our future; a day dedicated to young people. During the day, the Soweto Theatre will play host to a series of panels, business discussions and exclusive story-tellers style performances. GRAMMY Award-winning songwriter and producer, Rico Love (Beyoncé, Diddy, Pato Rankin, French Montana, Usher, etc.) will lead the programme, conducting a version of his I Love Music College conference, a US-based project started in 2015 to help educate emerging artists via the guidance of established ones. The evening’s concert will highlight hip-hop, dancehall and dance music with acts from all over the world.

Day Two (Friday 15 June)
The incredible power of women will take centre stage with a business and lifestyle exchange panels and workshops. Industry leaders will discuss fitness and wellness, business and entrepreneurship, fashion, beauty and art. The evening concert will feature some of the most critical voices in jazz, R&B, spoken word and dance music. Day two of the festival will feature GRAMMY-nominated singer, actress and Broadway star Deborah Cox.

Day Three (Saturday 16 June)
Saturday is ‘international day’, a spotlight on incredible acts from across the globe. Daytime panels and artist one-on-one interviews will continue on day three. The evening will feature incredible jazz, reggae, R&B, and soul performances.

Day Four (Sunday 17 June)
The fourth and final day is dubbed ‘inspiration’, and dedicated to jazz and gospel. The morning sessions will focus on panel discussions about spirituality in music, the power of music and the smaller sessions that explore the origins of genres and songs. The evening concert will highlight gospel, jazz and R&B acts.
     The first wave of acts truly represents the spirit of the festival with multiple GRAMMY Award-winning acts such as legendary New Orleans band, The Neville Brothers, jazz greats Bob James and New Orleans jazz star Irvin Mayfield.
     The ‘international day’ will feature twelve-time GRAMMY nominee and R&B icon Charlie Wilson. Other incredible acts such as eight-time GRAMMY nominated, reggae music legends, Third World, KORA Award and multiple SAMA award winner, Ernie Smith and jazz star, Marion Meadows are all part of the early wave of acts to sign on.
     New acts and details will be announced every month. For more information, visit www.sowetoijf.com / or www.sowetotheatre.com

SHARE