DRUMMER, Nkanyezi Cele, wants to showcase the music and artists of South Africa to the world, writes ESTELLE SINKINS.
The Pietermaritzburg musician is heading to Europe later this week to perform with his band in The Netherlands and Denmark.
He will be joined on tour by: Prince Bulo, a composer, arranger, producer, teacher and musician, on bass guitar; Lungelo Ngcobo, a young pianist from Port Shepstone; Thobeka Langa, a jazz vocalist from Pietermaritzburg; and Durban-based guitarist, Siphelele Nyide.
“We will be playing at the Kwaku Festival at The Hague in Amsterdam on July 15 and 16 … it’s a festival which attracts around 200 000 people every year,” Cele said.
Running over four weekends, the festival offers visitors a selection of DJs, live music and dance workshops. There’s usually also a large Caribbean market and an area that caters especially for younger visitors, with loads of family-friendly entertainment on offer all day long.
The festival’s origins lie in celebrating the abolition of slavery in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles on 1 July 1863.
Cele and his band will also be performing a private gig for ambassadors in Amsterdam on July 14 and at a special event in aid of Mandela Day in Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 18. The latter is at the invitation of Zindi Mandela, the South African ambassador in Denmark.
Cele, who studied at the Durban University of Technology and University of KwaZulu-Natal, is a veteran of the SA music scene.
“I’ve been in the business for the past 29 years, and in that time I have performed with greats like Sibongile Khumalo, Abdullah Ibrahim, Judith Sephuma and Ray Phiri,” he said.
“I’ve been to Amsterdam many times, but for some of those in my band it is a new experience. They are counting the days until we leave. And I really think this is going to be a really fun trip, especially as it’s the first time I’m really performing under my own banner.”
Cele, who is a founder member of the Pietermaritzburg Jazz Festival, said the band would be playing a mix of originals and cover songs, including Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata and Wahamba nathi by Solly Mahlangu.
“We have a vast library of amazing music to draw from,” says Cele, “and that’s one of the reasons I am so excited about our tour. I want to show the world what we have as South African musicians, and especially what we have here in KwaZulu-Natal.”
The European tour, and a forthcoming tour of Brazil, Colombia and Argentina, have been made possible by the Department of Arts and Culture (both nationally and in KZN), the office of the Msunduzi mayor, Themba Njilo, and Jaguar Land Rover Pietermaritzburg.
“We are very grateful to everyone who has supported us,” the drummer, who has released two albums – Tshina Africa and Dig Deep – said.
Local fans will get a taste of what Cele and his band will be performing in Holland and Denmark at a special gala dinner, which is being hosted by Njilo, at the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on Wednesday, July 12. The event is by invitation only.