Not based anywhere in particular, PIPPA Francis writes the blog, Phambili. 
Her posts explore people, places and the politics of it all.

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A foot-stomping celebration of SA music

A foot-stomping celebration of SA music

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I walked out of The Barnyard theatre at Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre one Wednesday evening in November 2017 with an absolute sense of “enthrallment”. 

I do not use the word lightly. I actually went home and did my research about how to best describe the way I felt after watching “A South African Musical Journey” performed by 11 students from the Casterbridge Music Development Academy (CMDA). 

Watching the show got me thinking about the emotions music and entertainment can bring out in a person. An article called “10 Psychological states you’ve never heard of - and when you experienced them” explained that one subset of the emotion, joy, is “a state of intense rapture” called “enthrallment”. 

“You might experience it when you see an incredible spectacle – a concert, a movie, a rocket taking off – that captures all your attention and elevates your mood to tremendous heights,” the article read. 
 

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The Legogote band was certainly something of a spectacle, playing well-known South African favourites such as Johnny Clegg’s “Impi”, Brenda Fassie’s “Weekend Special” and “Weeping”, the original by Bright Blue, and covered by musicians and choirs the world over.

From the very first song, the audience was on its feet dancing and singing along. There was very little sitting down for the rest of the two-part performance.

The CMDA’s initiative has been running for about six months now, with breaks for the students’ holidays and studies, of course. Some of the band members have moved on and new musicians have joined the fold. Nine performers head into 2018’s shows which include five more SA hits and promise to pack even more of a punch.

According to Sharon Zulu, one of the lead vocalists, the audience can look forward to “Jabulani” by PJ Powers, DJ Ginyani’s “Xigubu” and Koos Kombuis’ much-loved “Lisa se klavier”. Sharon says her favourite addition is the Springbok Nude Girls’ “Blue Eyes”.

“We would love for the show to restore the raw sense of South African music; for people to come and watch, learn something and put the word out there that our music history is something to be proud of,” she said.

For coach and mentor of the group, Jose de Aguiar (affectionately known as Aggi), the initiative has been successful beyond the expectations of all involved.

“People have the assumption that they are coming to see a bunch of students play at school level, but after the performance they leave gob smacked. Surprise! Some have come back four times,” he said.

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Aggi certainly has the much-needed experience to guide Legogote in the right direction. He has played the guitar for several bands in his career but is probably best known for his role in 1980s rock band éVoid, whose acoustic melody “Jeremiah and Josephine” also made the song list for “A South African Musical Journey”.

“I know we can go national but it all depends on the commitment and determination of the pupils. This could be huge, but again ‘the ball is in their court’,” Aggi adds.

“The show is light, fun and very energy driven. It has been a massive learning curve (for the students); learning to play and act like they are enjoying themselves in a confined scenario. It’s not easy.”

The students also divide the ticket money after production expenses have been subtracted, which adds to the responsibility of it all.
 

Sharon agrees with her coach, and says she and the others have changed greatly through the experience.

 “It has broadened my view of people and crowds. Each show we do, the audience is totally different. There are people who sit and listen to the music and people who get up and move,” the 21-year-old explained.

“Obviously we don’t want anyone arriving at the show unhappy, but when they leave, we want them to feel better about the world.”

This is a show which would make any South African proud; such is the high standard of musicality and performance on display. But most of all, it will make even the hardest of hearts happier. Some audience members might even leave "enthralled".

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Big respect to the band members I watched in November 2017: 
Vocals - Victoria, Sharon, Witness (also percussion), Melanie (also narrator); Keyboard - Mfundo, Ernest (also vocals); Bass and acoustic guitar - Myles; Drums - Tebogo; Guitar - Daniel; Sax and guitar - Khangi; Backing vocals - Donald.

Visit the CMDA website or check them out on Facebook for information about upcoming performances.

 

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