SA’s Tshola leads jazz festival line-up
By Ruth Butaumocho
South African jazz crooner Tsepo Tshola, the Village Pope, leads the list of performers at this year’s Winter Jazz Festival to be held at the end of this month. This would be the last winter jazz festival, which, coincidentally, is also celebrating its epic 10th anniversary.
The festival running from July 29 to August 1 will see Tshola sharing the stage with Victor Kunonga, Jazz Invitation, AY Band with Munya Mataruse and Dumi Ngulube among other jazz artistes. Tshola is a formerly a member of Sankomota, a top jazz group which originated from Lesotho.
He was a leading member of the group together with the late Frank Leepa. In the 80s, Sankomota was a top band in Southern Africa. He has also released his own albums as a solo artist. Famed as the “Village Pope”, Tshola’s music career however was nearly destroyed by drug abuse.
For a festival that had grown big in stature, it is surprising to see such a slim line of names at a time, the fete is supposed to have been inviting big names in jazz, both regional and international.
Event organiser, Josh Hozheri was quick to defend the line up, saying the festival had been adversely affected by lack of adequate and proper venues.
“The festival is an indoor event considering that it is winter. We have not been able to find a suitable indoor venue, with a capacity to hold many people, and that is why we did not invite as many artists as we should.
“Because of that we are crossing the floor and next year, we will be holding summer jazz festivals. Naturally that will be an outdoor event and we expect it to be bigger and better than previous events we have held before.
Hozheri was, however, upbeat that despite the absence of several international stars, the event would certainly match the international standards. This year’s winter jazz festival will be held at three different venues, Jazz 105, Roadhouse in Ruwa and Shanguru Jazz Place in Chinhoyi during the four-day event.
This year’s festival will pay tribute to the late Sam Mtukudzi who died in a car accident in March. According to Hozheri, Sam started taking part in the festival when he was still very young.
“Sam grew up with the festival. It was one thing he always looked forward to during his musical career even when he was still with the Prince Edward School Band. We have seen it fit to pay tribute to the young man and as such we have included his band in the festival line-up,” said Hozheri.