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IzangoMa, iPhupho L’ka Biko and Vinnie Mak to perform at SAST fringe season 2

JOHANNESBURG – South African artists IzangoMa, iPhupho L’ka Biko and Vinnie Mak will be live at the South African State Theatre (SAST) on Sunday the 24th of July.

The event, in partnership with music stable ALTBLK and independent artist management company Akum Agency forms part of the SAST fringe platform – which showcases the talent of working artists that have been on the fringe but desire to enter the mainstream commercial market.

Eyewitness News caught up with Vinnie Mak and Nhlanhla Ngqaqu – founder of iPhupho L’ka Biko ahead of the performance.

“I hope I can be transparent enough and vulnerable enough to open up that part in every soul who will be sharing that trip with me. If we could connect in that sphere I'd be home,” said Vinnie Mak.

Vinnie Mak, real name Vincent Makeleni is a versatile musician who has dabbled in a multitude of genres from the blues to hip hop and house, settling on his own Buffalo City Blues with his haunting vocals at the forefront. His music speaks in colours and emotions; like the flats in the inner city, there are many apartments as there are compartments in the heart and mind.

“I can't really say I've been told I was musical as a toddler even. I sang before I could properly speak, I didn't do much of that really, speaking. But it's been music throughout my life from an all-boys school choir to a makeshift home studio in a friend's room in my teens” said Vinnie Mak of his musical journey.

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In 2005 he worked with Rigby Torrent on the Patience of Progression project, which featured Msaki on a number of tracks.

“I'd love to think it's alternative. The basis of my music though I know is Soul and Blues. I call it Inner City Soul, ”said Vinnie Mak.

Being surrounded by his grandmother’s peers, Makeleni was introduced to all types of music, with jazz and blues as major influences, and was strongly inspired by legendary acts such Miles Davis and Al Green.

“I've learnt I'm always in a better position than the year before, learnt to breathe rest as often as you can and be retrospective you, step back and look at the strides and relationships built touched. Respect the craft. I've learnt that relationships mend bridges, and we all share these paths in due time. So we build not only for ourselves but for the one who will need to cross that bridge after us”.

Founded in 2020, SAST Fringe was introduced as a measure to offer pandemic relief and mass employment for artists during lockdowns. It has created work for scores of artists, including those working behind the scenes.

Artists including Urban Village, Le Mpendulo, UMLE, Mathapelo Masilela and Leomile have graced the programme recently. Their performances can now be streamed online.

“The partnership with Akum Agency started with seasoned 02 of SAST fringe, which launched with artists Leomia le, Umle, and Urban Village in March,” said SAST via e-mail.

“Collaborations and partnerships are key to our vision as a theatre. We produce so much content, and we have realised that we cannot do the job alone. We need to pull together to ensure that the needs of artists are met to keep the arts alive,” said SAST.

“Our goal is to continue servicing the artists and feeding our audiences with desired content as much as possible. We hope that a platform like SAST fringe, whilst it was established to create mass employment as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues growing and becoming a home for artists, where artists not only showcase their talent but also connect and develop audiences,” the theatre explained by email.

“The music journey started at home going to the synagogue every Sabbath, listening to my uncle’s vinyl as kid, attending late night choir practices with my mother, tagging along with my aunt when went for rehearsals at a performance arts centre in Kagiso, ”said Nhlanhla Ngqaqu – founder of iPhupho L’ka Biko.

iPhupho L’ka Biko refers to God as the giver and the fulfiller of dreams, as Biko speaks of black consciousness. The band incendiary live shows seeks to spiritually awaken the masses through music. Their hit composition, Uthixo Ukhona, is a seminal sermon about the plight of black people and protest.

“We are grateful to the Almighty and Abadala for always assuring us that we destined for great things and that we are on the right path. We are grateful for the consistent love and support we receive from our supporters. We are grateful for life, our gifts and the grace that has kept us together for almost 7 years now. We are grateful for the progress that we have made despite the challenges we encountered on this journey. It’s important to be one voice in a group; everyone must be seen and heard, love should lead, prayer is essential and that all things a possible” said Ngqaqu.

iPhupho L'ka Biko is known for exploring themes such as spirituality, ritual, tradition, culture, religion, origins, race and displacement in its music.

“Theatre performances are beautiful in that the space is conducive for curation and affords the audience an opportunity to actually listen and engage the music in a heightened sense".

The group aims to conscientise and spiritually awaken the human race globally through music. Its music is not defined by a genre, but by the fusion of jazz, gospel and indigenous African music such as imvumane and igwijo.

Every set that we have is special because we remain true who we are, and every show is a moment of growth and healing for us and our audience”said Ngqaqu.

Joining iPhupho L’ka Biko and Vinnie Mak is IzangoMa – a 15-piece ensemble from Pretoria, led by vocalist and guitarist Sibusile Xaba and DJ/producer Ash K.

Their debut album will be released by Brownswood Recordings towards the end of 2022/beginning of 2023. The album in synth/keys leads an exploration of Afro-Beat, Afro-Jazz, Mahlathini and Psychedelia, expect high energy and percussive drum palettes, free echoing vocal chants, and lyrical layering of horns, music to dance your way against the disintegration and loneliness that modern life reproduces.

IzangoMa’s novel signature and performance brings a beautiful acoustic ecology that cannot be held by genre but reminds us that we are part of a miraculous pattern of the earth’s cycles and life forms through sound. With the predominant meaning being “healer”, Izangoma also, when pronounced or spoken out (when written like this) "iza ngoma" translates to "song come".

READ: Pilani Bubu, Thesis ZA to perform live at State Theatre's Fringe Season 2

Artmotion S.Africa

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