KAYA FM

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THE Metro FM team rightfully celebrated the unblemished Wilson B Nkosi for his 34 year stay at the station some Sundays ago. The man has hosted all the station’s shows, bar the Jazz slot. But it’s his Sounds and Stuff Like That show that has made him a custodian of mode-setting on a Sunday.

He’s an institution with a cult following that would leave T.B Joshua green with envy. For so many years other stations have fruitlessly tried to build their own love movements on their airwaves on a Sunday. They could play the very same Howard Hewitt’s Call His Name, but for some odd reason it doesn’t sound the same on another station without the commanding but yet soothing voice of Nkosi, back-announcing it.

Sunday is a day where most people would typically unwind and later prepare for the week ahead. There’s also a sense of reflection that comes with the Sunday, whether reflecting on the weekend you’ve had or some people, thinking about the coming week, often with a tinge of anxiety. Anxious about the stress of the workplace or school-this is when the fun “weekend you” makes way for the more apprehensive version of yourself. I suppose this is one of the reasons why people are so attached to Metro FM radio on Sunday, as it’s somewhat of a safe space for a lot of adults, with all the endearing music.

But the kids have found an alternative of chasing away the Sunday blues. Leading to a shift in the sound of Sunday, slowly moving away from the melodramatic ditties such as Toni Braxton’s Un-break My Heart or Al Jarreau’s Your Song which I felt forced to listen to growing up, to that of Zoë Modiga Umdali and Sio’s Could You being played on radio.

See, a handful of radio stations have realised they can’t compete with Metro by doing exactly what the urban station has been successfully doing for many years, so they’ve taken Metro’s blueprint of Sunday radio- a complete takeover of the airwaves, not just through one slot but throughout the day, with shows that have a common thread. Creating a Sunday mood, that translates into a movement.

YFM has been one of the leaders in this regard. While their neighbours at Metro will be punting the #LoveMovement hashtag, YFM’s Sunday theme is summed up by #SundayFeels hashtag. From 6AM to 6PM the common thread on the station is feels or vibes- this talks to a person’s emotional state or the atmosphere of a place. DJ Flax who comes in at 10AM until 2PM and Just Mo’s Global Experience show follows and runs until 6PM are the station’s two protagonist in carrying out these feels. Think the late Eddie Zondi and Nkosi together in their prime.

5FM’s Selective Styles show with Kid Fonque is one of the first to display this paradigm shift or at least highlight listeners’ appetite for something different. “Sunday is a great time for radio – given that listeners make an effort to tune in and are therefore very pedantic about the music and content offering. That is why a show like Selective Styles is important,” says 5FM station manager Siyanda Fikelepi.

Selective Styles has been on air since 2016 and just two months ago, it celebrated its 200th show. “Based on the latest Rams figures the shows diary on diary variance has shown growth with a compound annual growth showing gains. What’s also important to not about the show is how it has managed to create a community on twitter where curated content is discussed and trends. This has a loyal following that can’t go unnoticed.”

Kaya FM seemed to try the Metro route with Tbose’s Touch of Soul, but they’ve now decided to approach Sundays in their own way through their thoroughly researched What’s Wrong With Groovin‘ a show that runs from 2PM-6PM that’s uniquely packaged as an audio-documentary steeped in Pan-African knowledge, art, narratives, literature and history. “What’s Wrong With Groovin’ fulfills our aspirations for radio that elevates the level of consciousness in society,” says Kaya’s Creative Head Mohau Bosiu.

“Every week, we prepare something that is unforgettable, something distinctly memorable, and because these insights we share are significant, we employ sound as a strong sense that can be deeply etched in one’s memory.”

Kaya FM’s music offering, beyond Sound Supreme, has been quite evocative, with an edge to surprise and dazzle. What is Wrong With Groovin’ follows that trajectory.””

The show is narrated by poet and author Lebohang Masango, with the music curated by Disc Jockeys Kenzhero and Tha_Muzik. They celebrated a year anniversary in the first week of October.

From Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s rendition of Nkosi Sikelela, Seun Kuti &Egypt 80’s Black Times, or Bongo Muffin’s Laduma Izulu are examples of the type of sound that dominates the home of the Afropolitan on a Sunday. “The numbers surprisingly remained stable from the first diary, and picked from the second, even with such an unconventional show. What we have seen is that the show has attracted an upmarket, academically inclined audience, and listeners who’ve been seeking something different from the ballads Sunday radio. We’ve carved an offering fit for a progressive class of society,” says Bosiu.

Playlists on these shows is dominated by insanely talented young independent artists you’ve never heard of before, who have found fame through the internet. This has also been bolstered by the success of platforms such as Soulection and the Boiler Room, which have grown a desire for ‘world music’. It helps a great deal that the people behind on these shows are DJs and/or music producers.

“I think it’s been a balance of my radio show and my record label Stay True Sounds, I have really created a space for producers who are not creating top 20 hits to shine and that seems to have rippled slowly into mainstream radio,” 5FM”s  Kid Fonque says. His show has been a platform for unknown kats to make a name for themselves on a credible stage. “I have always been into experimental electronics from a young age, way before Boiler Room or Soulection.  You could say I am a child from the BBC era, listening to shows from Gilles Peterson and Benji B every week definitely defined how I see radio and the power it gives you to introduce new talent,” adds Kid Fonque.

Bosiu says that most radio stations still sound as they did in the 1980s, but understands the importance of innovation and consistent growth. “Listener tastes and preferences are ever evolving, and any smart broadcaster would know that nothing standstill in the world of media entertainment – you need to continuously innovate. From the way people consume new music; through streaming, discovering podcasts, attending live music performances… we have learned from these trends that every second in radio is important and that we have to give people something they are unlikely to receive anywhere else. One listener once tweeted that ‘listening to What is Wrong With Groovin’ is like watching a masterpiece being painted.'”

There are kids who are as passionate about radio as Wilson B Nkosi was, that religiously listen to these Sunday shows. 34 years from now, they’ll most probably be custodians of these budding Sunday sounds you don’t yet know about.

THE FIRST VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN THE STAR NEWSPAPER

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It was in May of 2016 that then SABC Chief Operations Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, temerariously declared that all the national broadcaster’s radio stations playlists will be dominated by home-grown ditties. The infamous 90% local music quota.

Motsoeneng was like the uncle who in his inebriated state at a family gathering, announced that the whole family should come to his house the following weekend for another get-together where there would be an ubiquity of food and beverages, without discussing it with his frugal wife.

The redundant radio station managers who never seem to sheath their appetite for payola, being the stingy wife in the analogy.

Although the move evinced Motsoeneng’s strange benign for artists, he never thought through the execution of such a catalytic move. In an interview with Nicky B on Kaya FM’s World Show around the same time, Nakhane Touré said one of the problems with the ratio is that listeners won’t be introduced to new music by radio stations. “Instead of hearing one Mafikizolo song a day, we’ll now hear two or three,” said Touré. Of course the Fog singer was making a mere example (he did say he loves the dance duo) but his point was clearer than a pair of new specs.

Of the countless utterances we’ve had to endure from Motsoeneng, I’m pondering particularly on this very one during the Covid-19 lockdown, because I’ve been immersed in South African music of different kinds for the last few weeks and I imagine how South Africa would be sounding like, had Motsoeneng’s wish been carefully granted.

To be more specific, it’s the Siya Makuzeni Sextet album, Out Of This World that has had me imagining a world where South Africans are exposed to their finest talent.

Siya Mukuzeni is an insanely talented artist who delivers her craft with ingenuity, ubuntu, vigour and in what looks seamlessness. The trombonist who also belts out notes has been in the industry for over 15 years now, playing in some of the biggest bands with fine musicians on world stages. She was part of Carlo Mombelli’s Prisoners of Strange ensemble between 2002 and 2011. She was also in the Blue Notes Tribute Ochestra where she played with the likes of Marcus Wyatt, Johnny Dyani and Chris McGregor. Together with another unique ensemble of equally talented artists, collectively known as Spaza, she released an album of the same name a year ago.

With the Siya Makuzeni Sextet, she put together some of her favourite musicians who she enjoys to play with to create a body of work that I believe more South Africans need to hear. The sextet comprises of Thandi Ntuli on piano, Ayanda Sikade on the drums, the trumpet being blown by Sakhile Simani, Sisonke Xoti playing the saxophone and Benjamin Japhta on bass.

There’s often the juxtaposition to bassist Esperanza Spalding because they both are female, sing and play an instrument. They’ll always be comparisons of females, especially in an industry without women in the forefront. Although the groove in their music is undeniable, Siya’s got the juice. That unfiltered African juice form the wells of the Eastern Cape.

Like on the title track, Out Of This World which teems with traditional Xhosa music from the first second, this while embracing modern sounds. Her voice is undeniably infectious as Stevie Wonder’s or Thandiswa Mazwai’s. The song New Age is a reiteration of a sought-out truth, while landing somewhat as a lament. Say Sibusile Xaba’s Uyahlupha. The joint has swing and it serves its purpose.

The seven track album has a fair balance for the padentic jazz ear that prefers songs without vocals, only the sound of instruments dancing. Another one composed by Makuzeni on the album, a Brazen Dream is a good introduction to Jazz for someone new to the abyss that is the genre.

I’m a sucker for great vocals accompanied by some dope show-don’t-tell typa lyrics which take the role of a travel tour guide, when listening to the music. Imagine a congregation singing Moya Oyingcwele in unison, truly in the spirit. It slaps umoya.

I feel the Holy Spirit’s presence each time I listen to this song-I’m overwhelmed with questions of how this song was conceived. With churches being open now, I believe choir conductors/worship leaders should introduce Moya Oyingcwele emasontweni, if they haven’t.

Out Of This World is just one of many great projects by a South African artist. People need to hear more of this and many other albums. To enjoy them, while simultaneously putting some randelas in the artists’ pockets. True “proudly South African” shit.

Listen to the album HERE

Clement Gama02/28/2019
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I shit you not, you can Google Mam’Dorothy Masuku and ‘Masuka’ will pop up. Growing up, I’ve asked myself countless times what Mam’Dorothy’s correct surname is.

We live in times where assumptions of how someone’s name is spelt could land you in trouble. Not all Shabalala’s are slept with a ‘T’, in the same way Khoza can also be slept with an ‘S’. So I’ve always been unsure about the legend’s last name until I learnt that she was actually a Masuku.

In the 1950s, when the vocalist with an elegant voice began her career, a record executive misspelt her surname by adding the first letter of the alphabet at the end of her last name. The Caucasian executive butchered her Ndebele surname on one of her first records. Headlines today, carry the weight of the perilous ‘A’ at the rear of her surname. But this is because the young Masuku was told that Masuka will be her stage name. “She said she had kinda accepted it because in the Jewish language, the word Masuka means being happy, happiness or something like that. So she kinda let it slide,” said singer Tribute Birdie Mboweni speaking in an interview on Kaya FM.

Mboweni is one of the very few young singers that celebrated Masuku while she was still alive, by creating her own modern renditions of music originally done by Mam’Dorothy.

Born in 1935, in Bulawayo Zimbabwe but moved to South Africa as a 12 year-old and in less than 10 years in Mzansi, she was already touring the country as a 19 year-old. She passed away on Saturday the age of 83, surrounded by family. She’s expected to be laid to rest this weekend.

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PRIOR to jetting out the country last week for the NYC Winter JazzFest, Nduduzo Makhathini likened the festival to umsamu, where the spirits of Jazz greats who’ve inspired him and continue to do so, dwell. And one spirit that continues to inspire him, is that of the late Zim Ngqawana who Makhathini was part of his Zimology Quartet the last time he played at the NYC Winter JazzFest in 2008 at the Knitting Factory.

Sharing knowledge with the audience during his performance at The Blue Note Jazz Club, Makhathini said “Thank you so much…there’s so many things that one could say, but I think what I have in my heart now is just one word, gratitude.  I think there’s something special that happens, especially towards redefining what the anthology or cosmology of what an African people is about. And what I find to be very essential, is the idea or gathering,  rituals or the coming together. We believe that when we come together, our ancestors are sort of with us and are enticed in that way .”

Nduduzo Makhathini on stage at New York’s Blue Note Jazz Club. From Nduduzo Makhathini’s Facebook.

Makhathini played Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds Project at the iconic Jazz Club last night, alongside a fine ensemble of musicians who complimented him. He had Burniss Travis on Double Bass, Nasheet Waits on the drums, Aaron Burnett on Tenor Sax, Logan Richardson on Alto Sax and New York based South African Trumpeter Lesedi Ntsane. The latter three made up the horn section in the centre of the stage on Monday night in New York.

Makhathini at The Blue Note Jazz Club

The ensemble only had their first rehearsal on Sunday, literally a day before taking to stage, but from the videos shared on social media, their chemistry was on par with their musicality.  They performed before husband and wife duo, The Baylor Project.

The JazzFest is a weeklong festival which takes place in several locations around New York. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, the festival attracts some of the finest musicians from around the globe to the Big Apple, all in the love of Jazz. Makhathini is also in New York with members of the Kaya FM team that includes station boss Greg Maloka, hosts Brenda Sisane and Collin Kgari.

The Blue Note Jazz Club is an abode of Jazz because of its rich history. It first opened its doors in 1981, hosting the genre’s masters; The likes of Sarah Vaughan, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles and Lionel Hampton are some prominent names which often frequented the club.

Makhathini’s appearance at the Blue Note Jazz Club received praise from his industry peers, including percussionists Azah and Tumi Mogorosi, writer Natalia Molebatsi, fashion designer Bathini Kowane and his life partner, singer songwriter Omagugu Makhathini.

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HAVING Erykah Badu as the headliner to a show you’re booked at, could make most artists feel like they’re just an addition to the line-up. But Jordan Rakei made sure why people had to attend the first day of the DSTV Delicious Festival on Saturday.

The two day food festival took place this past weekend at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit, in Midrand. New-Zealand singer Rakei’s heart-warming performance on Saturday evening, was appreciated by those present.

Wearing comfortable sweatpants and a simple white T-shirt, after his performance Rakei strolled in the crowd without an entourage around him to guard him. “I’m really surprised by people’s reaction here. The performance was great and the people enjoyed it,” said the Tawo singer speaking to Tha Bravado on the night.

“Can we please have a picture with you,” asked random fans walking past us. Rakei gladly obliged. This was his first performance in Gauteng, but was not his first time in the country. “I performed in Cape Town last year at the Jazz Festival,” he said.

Jordan Rakei with his band at the DSTV Delicious Festival. Photo supplied

“I just want to check out the people and a bit of the festival, we leave tomorrow [Sunday] morning,” he said. He was talking while Acid Jazz band D’Influence were performing on the main stage, with a throngs of people enjoying the performance sitting on their camp chairs and appreciating a relaxed time on the lawn.

Kaya FM’s Bridget Masinga was the mc on the main stage on the night. Some of the day’s performances included Simphiwe Dana, Amanda Black and Lira. While German collective Jazzanova, closed off the night.

While things were relaxed and nonchalant on the main stage, Louie Vega had House fans eating from the palm of his hand on the dance stage. An estimate of about a thousand people were in front of the dance platform, dancing and enjoying soulful House sounds from the Grammy award winning artist-even other DJs on the line-up were going crazy, behind Vega on stage.

The festival ended Sunday with a spirited and moving performance by Erykah Badu which everyone was looking forward to.


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