Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Simphiwe Dana from around the world

A few years back, Robert from M.E.L.T. introduced Len and I to music journalist, Wolfgang Koenig, from Berlin Germany, when he needed a place to stay while coming to the then, Cape Town North Sea Jazz Festival.

Wolfgang, who has degrees in Foreign Trade, African Economics and Communication Sciences, has since been to Cape Town a number of times more; sleeping on our couch, Jasper’s bed, the floor in the lounge – where-ever we could put him! And in return he hosted us in 2004 when we took a catalogue of artists to the POPKOMM festival in Berlin, and later we shared the same B&B during the 2004 WOMEX in Essen.

When I grow up one day I want to have as many CD’s as Wolfgang has! As he explains,” I rather collect CDs than banknotes.”

Living in a stunning 1930’s apartment block with high ceilings, big rooms and long passages, I couldn’t believe the amount of CD’s, DVD’s and LP’s he has collected over the years. Almost every wall is covered with racks, from floor to ceiling, and the amazing thing is that he knows where everything is. When talking about an artist he would dash off and pluck the CD he wanted without having to look around – he just knows.

Wolfgang used to live Eastern side of the Berlin wall during the Cold War, but as a music journalist, he was permitted from time to time travel across to the decadent Capitalist and of course 'friendly' countries like Cuba. In 1989 when the wall came down, he was in the U.K., suddenly finding himself free, and not having to adhere to the strict controls that he had had to put up with at home.

But being on the Eastern side of the wall, Wolfgang came into contact with quite a number of South African musicians who were studying at East Germany during Apartheid, with whom he used to play music. So from those early days, his love of South African music has continued, and I have some awesome recordings of concerts and interviews he's had with artists like Pops Mohamed, Dorethy Masuka and Hugh Masekela.

At the beginning of last year, just after the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, we started getting loads of enquiries for the very exciting Simphiwe Dana, after she had blown audiences away. We made contact with her, and her partner who manages her, and although they were very pleased to work with us, we didn't have any of marketing material – which isn’t great when trying to impress clients.

So we only had one thing to do – contact Wolfgang! And within 15 minutes we had a write-up, and a track from her debut album, Zandisile.

Simphiwe, who hails from the Transkei, has gone on to become one of the top artists available in South Africa, and with her strong sense of community spirit, has co-written tracks with strong social messages – Sibuthwele Ubunzima explores the problem of hunger in SA, Zandisile is a song from mother to daughter, and Ingoma is about the joy that can be found in music, regardless of other problems in your life. Her music touches the soul.

To celebrate a new album by this South African star, The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street that will be hitting the shelves soon, I have been able to find a small snippet of her Zandisile video – once again having to get it from a Spanish fan who has posted the vid. It matters not, as long as we get to enjoy it!

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