SOWETO INTERNATIONAL JAZZ FESTIVAL by Nolan Baynes
The Soweto brand is globally recognized, 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 June 14th – June 17th, 2018.
The Joburg City Theatre’s state of the art Soweto Theatre will be the home for the festival. The event will utilize the entire Soweto Theatre compound with in-door 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 mentor program 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 programs.
The four-day affair is willfully 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 center. 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.
Day One (Thursday, June 14th 18’)
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 program conducting a version of his I Love Music College conference, a US-based project started in 2015 to help educated 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, June 15th 18’)
The incredible Power of Women will take center stage with a business and lifestyle exchange panels and workshops. Industry leaders will discuss fitness and wellness, business and entrepreneurship, fashion and beauty and art. Th evening concert will feature some of the most critical voices in Jazz, R&B, Spoken Word and dance music.
Day Three (Saturday 16th 18’)
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 17th 18’)
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 12X Grammy nominee and R&B icon Charlie Wilson. Other incredible acts such as 8X 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.