C-Squared: Soulful Sounds Woman to Woman festival about women working together

Talking to Eyewitness News ahead of the Soulful Sounds Woman to Woman festival, organiser Koketso Sejosengoe said the festival was about women fixing each other’s crowns and owning space in the music industry.

File. DJ Zinhle is one of the artists who has a strong history of collaborating with other female artists. Picture: 947.co.za

JOHANNESBURG – “As a brand, we stand by the principle of queen’s fixing each other’s crowns and having each other’s backs. We want our audience to come out and experience the good energy we’ve all missed, and let loose in a safe and inclusive space,” said C-Squared Group’s Koketso Sejosengoe.

August is Women’s Month and in every corner of every industry, one can hear talk about issues including access to opportunities, equality and the gender pay gap.

Talking to Eyewitness News, ahead of the Soulful Sounds Woman to Woman festival, Sejosengoe said that the festival was about women fixing each other’s crowns and owning space in the music industry.

"The entertainment industry has historically been male-dominated. Women were used to window-dressing covers and videos for music that they never owned. To a great extent, they were exploited and never reaped the full benefits of the music that they contributed to," said Sejosengoe.

The inaugural Soulful Sounds Woman to Woman took place in 2018. This year's festival will take place on Saturday, 27 August 2022, at Old Greys in Bloemfontein, Free State.

"They can come and express their interpretation of this year’s dress code, which is Fierce. It is important for us to have a line-up that is inclusive of all ages because we want mothers, sisters and daughters to come together, fix each other’s crowns, have each other’s backs and go out and face the world. We want them to walk away feeling fearless and ready to conquer the world as a sisterhood," said Sejosengoe.

The return of the annual festival was announced on social media. After a COVID-19 hiatus, the event organisers confirmed a line-up of queens for the Women’s Month festival. Headlining this year’s festival includes heavy hitters and global sensations Mafikizolo, Uncle Waffles, Busiswa, Msaki, Thuli P, Ami Faku, DJ Zinhle and Nomfundo Moh.

“Women have made considerable progress, whether it be in the boardroom, sporting fields or on stage. However, the disparity between men and women still exists. There is still so much more to be done. Festivals and shows such as these are able to showcase women’s talents and capabilities. The girl child still needs to see people who look like her on bigger platforms. These events inspire hope and encourage her to believe that she can also succeed. And that there’s a community of women, a sisterhood, who will have her back,” said Sejosengoe.

The event is said to be about women supporting each other which of course is important not only in our personal spheres but in the larger context of society.

The music industry goes beyond hit songs and stage performances. There are music executives and individuals that earn money by writing songs, creating and selling recorded music, and writing sheet music- just to name a few things. There is also the issue of music ownership, and what the artists are entitled to.

So how much control do women have over these parts of the music industry?

“Today women are able to own their brands, produce their own music and have a voice and input over their product. For example, globally, Beyonce is one of the frontrunners in this movement, she produces her own music and endorses other female artists. She has normalised having a full female production as seen in Beychella," said Sejosengoe.

According to a new study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, women lag behind men as artists, but the problem is particularly severe when it comes to fields such as songwriting, producing and engineering. Sejosengoe says there is some movement toward women infiltrating all spheres of the music industry.

“Closer to home, we have DJ Zinhle who is a female DJ, producer and business owner, who also has a strong history of collaborating with other female artists in the industry. This is clear evidence of the evolution that is taking place between women in the industry,” said Sejosengoe.

An article published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia titled African Women in Music, Theater, and performance, pointed out that women in certain regions of Africa have always enjoyed relatively equal access to view performances and perform publicly.

“South African music has been able to have an effect on global trends as far back as the 1900s. Marabi, which was started in the townships and played in the local shebeens, had ties to jazz and the blues. In the 1970s our musical exports included the likes of Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba,” said Sejosengoe.

The African Women in Music article further points out that many African women have broken barriers in the categories of music, theatre, and performance, through exceptional demonstration of their crafts and talents.

Some artists, like Sonah Jobarteh and Jalil Baccar, mostly wielded influence within a specific region of the continent, while others, like Miriam Makeba and Cesária Évora, were well known throughout the continent and globally. These African women compelled the continent, and sometimes the world, to stop and ponder on their talents in the arts of music, theatre, and performance.

“Today we have amapiano, which influenced global sounds resulting in many artists attempting to emulate the sound. We have been able to see our local amapiano artists featuring in international shows, such as Busiswa and Uncle Waffles, who will be performing in Germany, hence her withdrawal from the Women to Women lineup,” said Sejosengoe of the influence the African women have on music in the world.

There has been a rise in mass shootings and deaths in public spaces. Eyewitness News asked Sejosengoe whether the C-Squared Group had taken that into consideration.

“Security is of the utmost importance to us the promoter. With the ongoing rise in crime nationally, this year we will be deploying additional armed security. We will have metal detectors for every single concert-goer will be scanned upon entrance. We will also be stationing several undercover security to work inside the grounds for additional safety for our patrons. The local police will also be present and ensure their visibility in all key areas around the grounds. In addition to the above, VOC has been briefed and has been activated for any possible crisis,” said Sejosengoe.