Tribute to the Jazz Festival

Singer and songwriter Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni
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If this saying “Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things” is anything to go by, then the petite, Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni is a true testimony to how big things can really be delivered in small packages. As a singer and songwriter, Birdie is proving to be a force to reckon with. Her voice is strong, soulful and wrapped up in the neo-soul and pop world and yet so jazzy.

Birdie, who will be performing at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in April next year, has joined a new breed of soul musicians that are putting their own modern take on the classic sound, and doing it justice. Her voice evokes raw, organic emotion that penetrates deep into the heart.  She launched her album ‘Birdie’ in May 2015.  Describing the album, she says: “This album teaches us that music recognises no barriers and can penetrate the hardest of hearts and unwrap the most hidden emotions of love long lost in despair.” Her music expresses deep feelings and is profoundly emotional, jazzy, ethno and yet soulful. Her live performances---to which she is no stranger---are equally so

How would you describe your genre in a nutshell?

I described it as being eclectic, and therefore, a fusion of different influences that make up the cosmopolitan me.

There is certainly strong Jazz and neo-soul influences. Where does your love for these genres come from?

My love for these genres comes from what I was exposed to in my teenage and early adulthood years. Growing up, I loved and listened to R&B and gospel, but later neo-soul and much later, Jazz. I also got an opportunity to do Jazz gigs in Qatar for four months and in Dubai for three months, so it’s no surprise really that these influences found their way into my music.

Your music has been said to penetrate deep and evoke raw emotions. What do you strive for in your work?

I strive for honesty in my work. I strive to display my soul and heart. I have a heightened sense of feeling. I feel through experiences, so I strive to tell it as I feel it. It’s definitely a challenge to me because outside of this, I’m not the most expressive person, but I have vowed to do this even if it drives me to tears.

What have been some of the biggest and most memorable moments in your career so far?

There’s been so many memorable moments in the last two years alone, and for that I’m truly grateful. These are some of the most memorable moments for me: Being the face of Moshito 2014 alongside uMam’ Dorothy Masuka; performing my rendition of MaGumede, my tribute to her, in her presence recently; launching my album to a sold out venue; being nominated for a Mbokodo award just four months after the release of my album, and making the line-up for the fouth biggest stage in the world, the 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival, exactly six months after the release of my album! I honestly could not be happier.

Who are some icons and role models that you look up to and do you incorporate or emulate any of their styles in the work that you produce?

Mam’ Dorothy Masuka is definitely one of the icons I look up to. She has contributed so much to the South African and world music heritage, and she continues to deliver so beautifully. I also love Angelique Kidjo, Khadja Nin and Jill Scott. I did a rendition of Mam’ Dorothy Masuka’s MaGumede for my album, titled Birdie, released in April 2015. When I write my my songs, I do not do so with the premeditated intention to emulate or sound like any of the people I look up to, so I honestly can’t pin point their styles in my music. That may be easier for someone else who listens to my music to hear the influence.

If you could describe your target market, who would it be?

I would say my target market is all music lovers from their mid twenties to adults beyond the 70s, most importantly, people who are interested in sitting down to actually listen and engage with the issues I address through my music. My album covers a variety of issues, and as a result, there’s something for different audiences.

You will be performing at the upcoming 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Please tell us about your expectations as well your opinion on the importance of such platforms?

Yes! I’m very excited about this performance. I’ve developed the ability to not have expectations about things, so as to allow every experience to be what it is at that moment, uniquely so. So I am just looking forward to enjoying myself at the festival. I have a story to tell, and that’s what I’m looking forward to sharing with those who will be there. The importance of platforms such as this cannot be emphasised enough. Thanks to this platform, thousands of people from all over the world will be introduced to me and my music. But not only that, this platform is the beginning of the realisation of my dream to perform on world stages. I’ll be performing at Africa’s grandest gathering. This is it, and I am eternally grateful for it.

Where do you see yourself headed in the future in terms of your music career?

I see myself as a world artist. That’s where I would like to see myself: on stages around the world, connecting with people and engaging on issues through my music.

Thandi Mavela 


Jazz it up ...

The 2016 Cape Town International Jazz Festival, taking place on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 April at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, will showcase an amazing line-up of local and internationasl artists including the like of:

·       Afrika Mkhize (SA)

·       Eddie Parker (UK)

·       Amadou & Mariam (Mali)

·       Angie Stone (USA)

·       BADBADNOTGOOD (Canada)

·       Benjamin Jephta Quintet (SA)

·       Lizz Wright (USA)

·       Mafikizolo with Tsepo Tshola (SA)

·       Mark Turner (USA)

·       Meshell Ndegeocello (USA)

·       Muzart and Khuli Chana (SA)

·       Nathi with special guest, Vusi Nova (SA)

·       Rahul Sharma (India) and George Brooks (USA)

·       George Brooks (USA)

·       Roberto Solo Fonseca (CUBA)

·       SWV (USA)

·       Thandi Ntuli (SA)

·       Topdog (SA)

·       Tumi Mogorosi and Project Elo (SA)


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Issue 83


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