He’s given the world Bieberlicious and Beliebers, and, like Hanson (them of the Mmm-Bop song), he did all this before his voice broke. He was big on YouTube before Psy and Die Antwoord, and he blazed his Internet trail after OK Go did their cutesy treadmill video that broke through all the clutter and got them noticed on the cyber box, with its highly appropriate ‘broadcast yourself’ pay-off line/slogan. Read more
So the man gave me his chips after tipping me, and I ate them. The way I figure it, it meant I didn’t have to pay for my own lunch.
As I wrote previously, buskers are viewed as musical beggars. But the people that I perform with are amazing. Some of them look a little long in the tooth, and possibly a little disheveled – but they are human beings nonetheless, and they, like me, choose to eke out a living from music. I have huge respect for them. Perhaps in New York and London, where buskers perform at subway and underground stations (as in Moscow), buskers are probably seen as dodgy too. But I will say this: if a singing student of mine told me that they were terrified of performing, I would take them with me to The Zone and get them to sing in front of people. That will soon cure their stage fright. I will write about this in another blog post in the future. Read more
Katie Melua is partly of Russian descent. As I recall, she once saw a 6-year-old boy busking in a Moscow metro station, and she was mortified. “Busking is a rite of passage,” she said, “but I think 6 is too young.”
Busking is a rite of passage.I agree. So, in my musical travails, I have made busking part of my journey to move my music career forward. Every Saturday (as I still have a day job), I drag myself out of bed and trek down to The Zone in Rosebank, where I join a whole bunch of fellow musicians, and I stand at the pay stations, where I sing. If people either feel sorry for me, or if they like my voice and the songs I sing, they will give me a tip from the change they get form the pay stations when they pay for their parking. Read more
I heard Margaret Mcnignana (aka Singana) on the radio today singing I never loved a man (the way that I love you). What a song! She also sang the lead vocals for Shaka Zulu (Bayete) and a number of other songs, and was as famous as they come in South Africa. But from what I understand, she died in abject poverty, almost penniless. Our beloved Solomon Linda was another muso who was raped by the industry, and died with less than $25 in his bank account in 1962, the year his song Mbube became the smash hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Read more
I have huge respect for these people because they just keep on going. Chuck Berry is sometimes regarded as the father of rock ‘n’ roll, while Tony Bennett has turned his love for jazz into a 60-year career. Tori Amos, who recently performed in Jozi and Cape Town, refuses to become an irrelevant old woman. Read more
They are all in their 70s or headed there very soon, and they are all supposedly over the hill. If you watch a movie like Cadillac Records, you will see how people made fun of them when they were first starting out – whether that is true or just for dramatic effect remains to be seen. Read more
I guess this blog post will read as slightly more anecdotal. My singing teacher always used to say to me, persistent and consistent work is what makes a voice. After training with her for ten years, I mastered the technique, and am today able to teach singing because I stuck with her, even when it was very tough. She fired me after those ten years, because I always used to give her so much grief. She left this world in 2012, at the age of 81. I only started training with her when she was 66. I count myself as very, very lucky, that I was able to learn from the wisdom of her many years of teaching. Read more
It took them four albums, probably over 200 gigs a year, and a lot of work, to become one of the most loved rock bands to emerge from the modern South African scene.
One could argue whether Colourful was their breakout hit, and got them established with major airplay on mainstream radio. Others would say it was their rendition of Lisa se Klavier that got them noticed by the public. Whatever it was, young girls went gaga when they heard that the band were playing at a venue close to them.
Of course, as time marched on, like many a South African act, they felt that they had done all they could locally, and decided to relocate to Los Angeles, which is still the nerve centre of the world’s recorded music scene. They are obliged to return to local shores four times a year to perform, as part of their contract, but they have spent a lot of time overseas of late.
They join the ranks of many a local band who made the jump overseas, only to find it a lot more challenging than they initially realised. Just Jinjer confessed that when they were there, they went from playing gigs of 6,000 people in Jozi to gigs of 6 in LA. Likewise, Tree 63 spent a considerable amount of time in Nashville, with lead singer Jon Ellis returning to Durban for a while. Seether made a very successful go of it overseas, but it is believed that Shaun Morgan has a house in Cape Town and spends quite a lot of time there. Maybe once Africa is in the blood, there is just no getting rid of it.
It was Burt Bacharach and Hal David who spoke of LA being “a great big freeway, put a hundred down and buy a car, in a week maybe two they’ll make you a star, weeks turn into years how quick they pass, and all the stars, that never were, are parking cars and pumping gas.” And of course it was Dionne Warwick who sang about it. But whatever happens with The Parlotones in America, they can be justly proud of their achievements so far, and they should just keep doing there what they did here: work consistently, and keep working. Like all of us, they may have no control over where fate may take them, but at least if they’re aiming in the right direction, they are far more likely to get there. Good luck boys! We’re all rooting for you.
SA is generally regarded as one of the largest House markets in the world. House owes its origins to the great city of Chicago, but has found a modern home in Miami, and is also part of the pulse of what makes Johannesburg such a cool and vibey place.
Some would argue that House emerged as the contemporary successor of Kwaito, though this line of thinking would stimulate great debate among die-hard fans of Kwaito, and puritans of House. Some may even argue that this is one of the reasons why Mandozahas lost his spark, and why a song like Nkalakatha would probably not work in 2014. Well, that really IS a matter of debate.
But perhaps one of the reasons House music has become so prevalent is its engagement with the DJ – this is music that is easily translated onto the dance floor, and easily translated onto the decks. Many a DJ is also a producer, and the music that is born in the studio often makes its way into the public arena when the producer goes out to DJ at a gig or a club.
Of course, the irrepressible Soul Candi Records is the doyen of House music in SA, and has given the music scene the likes of RJ Benjamin, Crazy White Boy and most recently, MiCasa. Soul Candi’s incubator of House beats in the past was their music school, which taught DJing and House music production. This function has subsequently been seconded to another college, but is still done in conjunction with Soul Candi.
And although downloads and music file sharing are becoming a bigger issue with the local music industry, such activities actually fuel the growth of House music, as it becomes popular organically and virally when it spreads across computers, phones and flash drives. To quote Sergio Botelho of Soul Candi: “Music is actually more popular now than it has ever been.” Preach it, brother!