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Africa’s Greatest Music Celebration in the Zulu Kingdom

26 August 2003 No Comment

27 & 28 Sept: Albert Park. On the eve of the two-day Albert Park event, there will be a massive feast of international hip-hop at the BAT Centre from 9pm on Friday 26 September. The “Siphon 2003 Project” sees top acts from SA, France and Reunion share the stage – Constructus and Blakfist of Garvey (SA); Interlope (France) and Zong (Reunion).

One of the key events on the KZN cultural calendar is the fifth Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival which will be held for the first time this year in Durban’s Albert Park on 27 and 28 September, with educational and fringe activities at other venues starting from 19 September onwards.

With three stages of non stop music and a mammoth 250 artists from 22 countries taking part, the general theme of the music focuses on collaborations with artists from the African continent and beyond – and represents a massive cross-cultural fusion of energy that attracts musicians and music lovers both nationally and internationally.

“The festival has developed a unique multi-cultural musical identity which includes unusual marriages of different genres and styles, and musicianship of the highest order. It is well on its way to establishing Durban as a nucleus of excellence in the African arts,” says festival directors Dan Chiorboli and Prof Pitika Ntuli.

A veritable “who’s who” of international and local musicians are on the bill again this year. Some of the featured artists are gospel queen Rebecca Malope, ever popular USA based jazz and R&B star Jonathan Butler; American rock icon Shawn Phillips; outspoken afro-pop icon Brenda Fassie; Roger Lucey and Brendan Jury;
Yizo-Yizo & Zola 7 star Zola & up and coming kwaito boys Zweed; Arno
Carstens’ New Porn; and the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra among others.

The Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival is a key event in the Celebrate Durban Festivities and an anchor of the iTrump Urban Regeneration
Programme. The choice of the venue is an integral part of the urban regeneration project in Durban. The idea is to bring visitors back into the increasingly cosmopolitan CBD by creating an exciting point of focus and link the bustling Albert Park area with the nearby places of interest in the small craft harbour.
The festival is supported by Tourism KZN: “TKZN is proud to be associated with the Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival and has identified this event as one of the key events that could be used to encourage and increase in the number of visitors to the Zulu Kingdom”, says Iris Francis, TKZN’s Marketing Communications Manager.

A new musical aspect to this year’s festival is the “Ancient Cultures” theme which includes the “Trancing in Dreamtime” collaboration between Australian Aboriginals and San Bushmen, as well Zanzibaris and Makua from Mozambique and Tanzania and sacred drummers from Reunion. Among the large contingent of visiting highly respected Australian musicians is Kerrianne Cox – one of Australia’s premier indigenous artists. She is known for her distinctive voice, powerful stage presence, astute commentary and strong lyrical content. Her music engages her audiences in thought-provoking social issues. An accomplished songwriter as well, Kerrianne’s style crosses from funky blues to soul fusion and folk.

Another highlight is the inclusion of the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra. American 6o’s rock icon Shawn Philipps performs with the orchestra, as does popular Italian-based vocalist Cedric Vandenshrik. This 55 member teaching orchestra under the baton of Philipp Maier, is breaking new ground in the inclusion of indigenous music into original orchestral compositions. “We are writing new pieces to reflect the profile and feel of this event. The fusion of all musical elements from classical, to indigenous, rock, to gospel to kwaito is our aim”, says Philipp Maier.

The two-day Albert Park event will see some innovative jazz collaborations on the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz stage. Leading international jazz musicians from India, USA, Mali, Denmark, Ghana, Gambia, France, the UK, Holland will share the stage. Also featured will be the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, Joe Delew and the Melvin Peters Quartet make a welcome return to the Durban jazz line up. The strong jazz line-up is further boosted by another first in the celebration of top Durban jazz musicians all together on one stage – led by the indomitable Brian Thusi and featuring Sandile Shange, Paul Kock, Milt Johnson, Gerald Sloane, Theo Bophela and Philani Ngidi amongst others.

Other innovative collaborations include on Saturday afternoon the “East meets West meets South Africa” collaboration with musicians from Senegal, Kenya and SA. Featured acts on Saturday include Syd Kitchen and Madala Kunene, the young black/white collaboration of Cynosure and Malkia.

Sunday’s line-up is equally exciting with one of the more unusual collaborations being the one between Zulu Maskanda and New Orleans’ Zydeco music styles, as well as Roger Lucey and Brendan Jury making music together. This is followed by the unique “Meeting Ancient Cultures” collaboration mentioned above.

Sun-downer time on Sunday sees Brenda Fassie take to the stage, followed by a “Kwaito Party” with Zweed and Zola. The festival wraps up with Arno Carstens’ eagerly awaited new group New Porn with Roxy Music’s legendary guitarist, Phil Manzanera as special guest.

The lower part of St Andrews Street will be closed off for the two-day festival. Inside
the park there will be a flea-market of eclectic, carefully-chosen craft and food stalls.
As in previous years there will be a rich selection of satellite events in the time leading up to the festival in areas in and around Durban featuring Awesome African participants performing with emerging and established artists. In previous years, some of the most boundary-breaking collaborations have been established in the curtain-raiser events.

One of the early events is Grammy nominee Sharon Katz who makes a welcome return to Durban with her world-class band for a performance on Wednesday 24 September at 5pm in Albert Park.

On the eve of the two-day Albert Park event, there will be a massive feast of international hip-hop at the BAT Centre from 9pm on Friday 26 September. The “Siphon 2003 Project” sees top acts from SA, France and Reunion share the stage – Constructus and Blakfist of Garvey (SA); Interlope (France) and Zong (Reunion).

The profile of Albert Park has changed significantly over the years with the city commencing to channel significant amounts of resources, funds, infrastructure and energy into the upgrade of the area. Some of the key buildings and land-marks in Albert Park have been carefully restored and upgraded. The refurbished Durban Music School and Diakonia Centre are beacons in the area, and the favourite garden restaurant – The Tropicale – which will play host to the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz stage, is being restored and re-launched to co-incide with the festival. There are workable systems in place to encourage dialogue and discussion between the city and the Albert Park community.

Every care has been taken to ensure that festival-goers at Albert Park have a safe, secure and enjoyable time. There will be a strong Metro police presence during the festival. To make a meaningful difference to Albert Park and to dove-tail on the area’s upgrade programme, respected private security company, Thekwini Security, together with the Awesome Africa committee have invited members of the community to become professionally trained to be able to assist with community liaison and event security. Selected community representatives are currently undergoing extensive training and will become certified Grade D security officers in time for the festival. This will allow them to become gainfully employed as security officers in the long term, and for the duration of the festival to work at the event, operating closely with the community-policing forum and the Metro Police.

Booking for the Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival is open through Computicket. Credit card booking on 011 340 8000 / 083 915 8000. For more information contact 031 2062494. Full programmes available at all Computicket outlets through KZN and can be emailed to you on request. Website address www.awesomeafricafestival.co.za

Tickets – R50 a day, children under 12 – R25.

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