Renowned South African guitarist Billy Monama will bring us closer to our past to help us reimagine our future during Heritage Month in September when he joins a number of legendary South African artists like Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Judith Sephuma and Titi Luzipo live on stage in Johannesburg.
During a one-night-only limited-ticket concert called Mayibuye iAfrika: The Freedom Songs, Monama will present a musical journey and conversation between two generations of ancestral artists, finally culminating in a reminder of what makes South African music resonate deeply with Africans and the rest of the world.
From the choice of venue to scholarly discussions around the concert and its celebratory participants, the concert aims to be a “re-visioning of heritage music for modern ears,” says Monama.
The concert will be held at the iconic Theatre of Struggle – the Market Theatre in Newtown Johannesburg – on 9 September 2023. In two parts, the event will pay homage to a first exile generation of indomitable composers and a second exile generation of musicians.
Part one will comprise choral freedom songs from the earliest compositions recorded by ANC exiles in what was called Tanganyika, now Tanzania. The fresh arrangement will feature work by Vuyisile Mini, Zinakele Nkaba and Wilson Khayingo.
Under the direction of Monama and led by The Grazroots Project Orkestra, the second segment will pay tribute to the anti-apartheid stalwarts and towering figures in the local and international music landscape, Letta Mbulu, Miriam Makeba, Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela.
The musical spectacular will also feature contemporary artists who specialise in different South African music genres and across a range of historical time frames. The pieces will showcase legendary drummer, saxophonist, composer and activist Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse, award-winning, afro-funk, jazz and gospel singer Judith Sephuma, and a household name in the Afro Jazz and soul genres Titi Luzipo, as well as a surprise guest artist.
The concert will be a feast for music scholars, aspiring and current musicians, as well as Maskandi, Kwela, Mbaqanga and African jazz connoisseurs and fans.
”This is a journey created to heal through song and reawaken consciousness as we revisit South African classics that celebrate past South African composers and musicians,” adds Monama. Mayibuye iAfrika: The Freedom Songs will be remembered as vital to documenting and disseminating South Africa’s generational music knowledge and a source of musical inspiration.