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Sounds of Soweto enthral jazz fans at Soweto Theatre Print E-mail
03 July 2017

Jazz maestro Bheki Khoza’s first gig at the iconic Soweto Theatre on Thursday June 29 was a memorable, unique and special one for local jazz enthusiasts for many reasons.

The well-travelled musician practically gave the small and intimate audience in the Yellow Room two great shows for the price of one.

Not only did he bring out the big guns in 82-year-old veteran trumpeter Stompie Manana, drummer par excellence Siphiwe Shiburi, stick bassist Lex Futshane and pianist Vincent Ngubane to wow the jazz lovers with timeless tunes, but he also introduced them to the sounds of the future through two of his young protégés – 10-year-old Nobiko Nhlangothi and her seven-year-old brother, Mana.

As the crowd began streaming into the theatre for the show, the left-handed guitarist was busy setting up with the assistance of the two young siblings. He looked like a dotting grandfather getting a hand from his grandchildren. But, in reality Nobiko and Mana – the children of musician Ayanda Nhlangothi and rapper Sebone Ranata – were preparing for what was to become a heart-warming performance on the night.

For the past three years, the siblings have been taking guitar lessons from the maestro himself. They are among 30 children he teaches music at his school in Auckland Park. But because Nobiko and Mana are “special students”, their lessons are also conducted at their home in Melville.

And their commitment to the craft showed as soon as they took to the stage and belted out sweet melodies, most of which were original compositions. With their mother helping them out by adjusting their microphones and rearranging their chairs, they dished out jazz tunes such Respect and Rise and Shine with great aplomb and to the appreciation of the audience.

Music is in their blood. The legendary Tu Nokwe is their mother’s aunt. At weekends they perform at Maboneng where, according to their father, they are a big hit with the crowds.

After the siblings’ performance – they rendered a total of five songs – it was time for Khoza and his band to put on a show. And they did, churning out hit after hit from his three albums. Manana’s agility on stage was a marvel to watch, especially for someone his age. Kofifi, his ode to Sophiatown, was a crowd favourite. He also praised the Nhlangothi kids for their talent and dedication to the craft.

As if the two shows in one were not enough, the jazz fanatics in attendance were treated to a second session featuring Sothokazi Arosi, whose energetic performances left the crowd in awe. Her hits included Somandla, Amanyala (about child abuse) and a cover of Miriam Makeba’s African Sunset.

The show was part of the theatre’s Sounds of Soweto programme that included The Muffinz, who performed on Friday June 30, and Sabelo Mthembu, who dazzled fans on Saturday July 1.

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Last Updated on 03 July 2017