Cape Town International Jazz Festival Workshop

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03 Apr 2010

Ms Rachelle Ferrell, The Workshop Facilitator and a world renowned jazz singer – welcome to South Africa!
Mr Rashid Lombard and Mr Billy Domingo, directors of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Artists and community members
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am delighted to be here at the eleventh Cape Town International Jazz Festival Workshop. My ministry and department have supported this festival over a number of years and we have continued to do so this year.

We have seen over the years how audiences are enthralled and inspired by this event.

We have seen how through arts and culture, especially music, we can begin to see nation-building in action and we can begin to foster social cohesion and instill a sense of national pride.

Today we also witness how young artists, aspiring musicians and interested members of the community can achieve their goals through being part of this event. We are keen especially that our youth can benefit from this event through developmental initiatives.

We regard skills training and the exchange of knowledge and ideas as the only way we can pass on the necessary expertise to others who will lead the creative industries and who will be the artists and musicians of the future and.

This is also the only way we can reach our goal of bringing art to all our people and through this initiative we can build a truly People’s culture.

A key feature of this Festival are the skills development workshops that run during this period, within the exciting context of the presence of all aspects of the music industry.

An event such as this one also provides a unique opportunity for networking amongst a wide range of industry practitioners.

What is crucial is that it allows for a strong relationship between training, education and the industry.

It allows for the creative industry to embrace skills development through programmes they embark upon.

Training and education prepare learners for the industry and help students to explore their own creativity. Hands-on / workshop training for technicians, production personnel, artists and administrators is essential for skills development and this Festival provides these opportunities.

I would urge all festivals to implement training programmes if they are not already doing so. Workshops provide opportunities for our youth to train in various and exciting fields.

Live performances are an important aspect of the industry’s development – whether you are a performer, musician, lights technician, sound engineer, camera person, events organizer or reporter.

It provides a platform for artists.

It is essential to perform live as it hones skills, builds a following and generates income. In many instances live performances are the only source of income for many musicians. It allows for them to build a reputation and in this way, help us, build a nation.

Another aspect that is vital to growing this industry is the development of audiences. How do we expand paying audiences?

We need to reach out to paying audiences through festivals such as this one, through further live events, which my department tries to do continuously, through radio play, through small events and clubs.

Together we need to get the message out that: If we wish to see our artists grow, we need to support them.

We can do this through attending their shows and buying their music. This is how countries with thriving cultural industries have grown over the years, through support in their home countries before achieving international fame.

Earlier this year I led the South African delegation to MIDEM in Cannes - South Africa was recognized as the country of honour at MIDEM this year. This was a unique opportunity for us to market our musicians and skills – and we did so with great success. We also hosted and organised a gala dinner and ceremony to honour the late Mama Africa, Miriam Makeba and to celebrate her work.

Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu were also given an international award in music by the Minister of Culture and Communication of France, his Excellency, Frederic Mitterand.

In the past two weeks artists throughout the country have been speaking about the World Cup and the need for the arts and culture programmes to reflect an African experience and to project a South African and African identity to the world.

On Thursday we met Dr Danny Jordaan, the CEO of the LOC, to share the concerns of artists that more South Africans and artists from the rest of the African continent be allowed to participate in the June 10 kick-off concert at Orlando stadium. Dr Jordaan shared our view that this major global event taking place for the first time on our home soil should reflect an African experience; and we shall be meeting with FIFA and the concert organizers in two weeks time to discuss these concerns.

I think that as you attend these master classes, you should also think about what you wish to add to that evolving identity of what it means to be South African and African in the world.

And even if it is not something that you consciously choose to think about, your very location on this African soil will enable you to make your contribution as someone belonging to this southern part of the world community.

I am reminded of the words of that famous African American poet, Langston Hughes, who gave the following response to a question about jazz music. He said:

“It’s my music; and I would not give jazz up for a world revolution.”

Through these words he refused to give up an identity and a way of being African in the world. Here in Africa the music is part of the revolution. And jazz music has achieved a world music revolution.

The very history of jazz tells the story of Africa and its Diaspora. The spreading of the music throughout the world is as a result of the movements and migrations of African people all over the world – there are messages embedded in every song that speak about our enslavement as a people, the forced movements of African people through the middle passage to the Americas and subsequent journeys to different places at different times. In this way we have expressed our voices in exile, we have sung songs of liberation and of homecoming and of freedom.

This music still speaks of suffering and silences but it also speaks of our people’s great resilience and abilities to transcend the pain and to achieve their own liberation.

This music is part of the world by its origins and through its nature – artists from other parts of the world and with different cultural experiences have adopted this music also as their own and have given their meaning to what began as a very African sound and idea. In this way, the world is enriched by our shared experiences.

This Festival is part of that passion that comes from sharing and wanting to celebrate ourselves and our own music with others. Let us celebrate our sixteen years of democracy. Let us embrace freedom of creativity. In this way, we extend the possibilities of music and the arts every day.

Finally, I urge each one of you to make full use of this great opportunity to improve yourselves, to emerge the best in your chosen field.

I thank the organizers for inviting me to this event. Tonight we shall also see some of the fruits of their labour over the years as we become witnesses to and participants in the 11th Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

I am sure it will be a wonderful event.

I thank you.