07 August 2012 | KULANI NKUNA
Newtown’s cultural precinct played host to nervous anticipation recently as musicians prepared, productions plotted and young artists strived to make it big.
The scene was the Bassline, and the club was filled with meandering queues as aspirant thespians attempted to stake their claim in Mbongeni Ngema’s new and yet unnamed production. Downstairs, the rehearsal rooms were filled with a cacophony of sounds and voices, both established and aspiring.
Gospel artist Lundi Tymara was preparing for a gig and his booming voice reverberated throughout the space whenever the door to his rehearsal room was opened. In the next room, Kabomo Vilakazi took his all-male, seven-piece band through their paces as he prepared for a gig at the Lyric Theatre.
In the foyer, various back-up artists and band members ambled about, and in one of the other rehearsal rooms, there was an all-women band at work.
This was indeed the place for musician Thandiswa Mazwai’s audition for an all-female band.
In reality television style, three judges (two men and one lady) looked on as the hopefuls impressed with their musical ability. The panel was made up of pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, trombonist and jazz vocalist Siya Makhuzeni and drummer Ayanda Sikade.
There wasn’t a large turnout on the first day, which could have been due to the fact that the advert specifically stated that only female instrumentalists were required – strictly no singers. Makhuzeni, an accomplished artist, offered some insight about the challenges of female musicians.
“I like the idea of an all-woman band, because it is empowering,” she says.
“It is essentially a male-dominated scene and it becomes an issue when people are vying for work. You will find that there are favourites, or more established musicians are used often, which can become a problem for female musicians. In my experience, it has always been a case of merit, and what you can do, so this will be a good exercise in showing that women can be just as creative and capable as the men.”
Despite the turnout, there was definite ability in the contestants’ playing, and what will separate one from the other in the judges’ eyes is the comfort level and relationship they have with their instrument.
“All I am looking for is honesty,” says Makhathini.
“If the musicians are honest in the way they play, then what more can I ask for?”
It was an interesting mix of women who turned up, with almost all of them carrying a jazz degree. Given the ethereal nuances of Mazwai’s music, guitarist Tessa Lily from Pretoria stuck out from the rest of the challengers.
She is currently in a rock band and is confident that music and not colour will have a lasting effect when working with Mazwai, should she make it into her band.
“I’m a rock & roller at heart, but I studied jazz at TUT,” Lily offers.
“I would like to get involved in the all-girl band and broaden my musical horizons. I think that as a woman, I can relate to certain aspects of the music, and obviously as a white woman there are certain things I can’t relate to.
“But I have always identified with music that has a message, especially a female message. So in that sense I hope I can fit in.”
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN
looklocal Kempton Park
looklocal Pretoria East
looklocal Rosebank Killarney
looklocal Randfontein Westonaria
looklocal Joburg South
looklocal Pretoria East