Review: Jonas Gwangwa at the CT Jazz Festival
Growing up I was never into jazz. I believed it was boring and catered to old people. But this changed when my uncle introduced me to Jonas Gwangwa's music.
I was a teenager and one morning he called me to his room and told me to listen to the CD that he was playing. I obliged. It was jazz but it wasn't boring! Minutes later, he told me the trumpeter was Gwangwa. I loved it! I was soon blowing my imaginary trumpet, making a fool of myself. I was hooked. From then on we'd listen to it together. We'd sing along to the songs while doing our chores.
Fast forward to last Friday. For the first time ever, I had an opportunity to see the legend live.
Gwanga was meant to be the opening act at Kippies, the main stage at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. We were seated long before he was due on stage, almost salivating for what was to come.
However, the MC came on and told us that Gwangwa was running late. The MC promised Gwangwa would perform later. The crowd was disappointed. They made it clear that they were at Kippies for Gwangwa. I was one of them and I was gutted. I'd hoped to see him. I didn't believe he would perform later. I thought he wouldn't show up. But boy, was I wrong!
Hours later, Gwangwa (with his signature beret) was on stage at the Basil 'Manenberg' Coetzee. It was after 11pm and the man who made me look at jazz with different eyes was on stage! I was star-struck. As he blew his trumpet, I wanted to cry. It was such a beautiful moment that I didn't care about anything else.
I ignored those who tried to talk to me because I wanted to savour the moment. I was overwhelmed by emotions. He sang Morungwa and I lost it. I didn't care about my two left feet and out of tune voice. I danced, sang along while holding back the tears of joy. Listening to him and his band was a privilege. He blew that trumpet as if he was auditioning for something.
Later on, I noticed Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her husband Charles were also enjoying the performance next to me. And the crowd also loved it. It was amazing.
At the end, he got up and thanked the crowd. I shouted, "No thank you!" I was grateful that he arrived and shared his talent with us. It was almost midnight and yet there he was giving it his all so effortlessly. This is the man who made me give jazz a chance. He's been rocking the beret before it became a hot fashion item in our politics.
Long after he'd left the stage, I just stood there with butterflies in my stomach. I was so happy to have witnessed that. I felt fulfilled.
The sold out two-day festival which was in its 15th year also featured Lalah Hathaway, Kirk Whalum, Carmen Lundy, Erykah Badu, Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya, The Muffinz and many more. They all wowed the hundreds who had come from all over the country and the continent for the annual festival.
Lindiwe Mlandu is a member of the Eyewitness News team in Cape Town. Follow her on __ Twitter: @LindiweMl