Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Up & Coming Initiative by Mandisa Bardill is about unearthing new, raw and authentic musical talent

Mandisa Bardill, founder of Up & Coming.
Jozi’s number one live music showcase, Up & Coming, presents an exciting set of emerging talent to perform at Winnies Soul & Jazz Restaurant, in Woodmead.   

Up & Coming is designed to give undiscovered talent a performance platform. Now in its fifth year and supported by The Departments of Arts and Culture, it provides a monthly showcase of musical performers primarily within the African, soul, Latin, RnB, jazz and folk genres every last Wednesday of the month.  
Mandisa and guests at the show.
This heritage month, it features neo Afro-soul singer-songwriter Thunzy and rapper Jankie Mokapa, and special guest artist, SAMA 2014 winner, singer-songwriter, Kabomo.
Mathunzi Macdonald (25), stage name Thunzy, said she is extremely excited. “This would be the second time I’d be performing as a featured artist on this stage. I have grown in what I do and I can’t wait to share it.”

She added that she discovered her music talent and music passion ages ago. “As with most people, church is where it starts. But moving into the more commercial scene was driven by my studies in jazz and pop music at the Tshwane University of Technology.
Thunzy said she has other artistic pursuits, such as acting, writing and talent development. “I am also a student and work on a few philanthropic projects.”

Jankie (29)’s music journey started in 2008. Apart from music he is interested in learning other crafts such as acting and presenting. “I feel honoured and blessed for this opportunity by Up & Coming as my album titled Phala is coming out on 12 October 2015.  

Mandisa believes is providing a platform for others.
Mandisa Bardill, founder of Up & Coming and Bardill Entertainment, said she is passionate about fresh, raw talent. “This reflects the unearthed and yet experienced musically talented artists we have here in SA. The showcase is not for first-time singers who are trying this thing out. It is for emerging experienced musicians who are looking for that break, who have studied music, and, or have been performing for a number of years in the garage, or at weddings, anywhere they can to gain the experience of performing, but have never had the opportunity to perform in front of a relevant audience made up of music industry players, media or entertainment industry personnel who could potentially assist them with taking their craft to the next level.”

A performer and artist herself, Mandisa added that she has a passion for developing talent. “When I see promising talented musicians, I want to assist, and see them fly and grow to be the best that they can! I am also passionate about raising the overall standard of our performance art and work ethic in South Africa.”

Check the Up & Coming music showcases at Winnies Soul and Jazz Restaurant in Woodmead on every last Wednesday of the month. Tickets sold at the door. 
For more info like the Facebook public page: Mandisa Bardill and stay informed.
Follow her on Twitter: @mandisabardill. 

* A summaried version of this article was published in Dailysun in September 2015.  

*All photos by Drawn to Light:

Emerging local acts get platform through Up & Coming monthly showcase

Photo: Facebook/Supplied

By Refilwe Thobega

Joburg’s number one live music showcase Up & Coming presents an exciting set of emerging talent that will be performing at Winnies Soul and Jazz Restaurant in Woodmead, Johannesburg, on Wednesday 29 July 2015. 

Up & Coming is designed to give talented musicians a well-deserved performance platform. Now in its fifth year and supported by the Departments of Arts and Culture, it provides a monthly showcase of musical performers, primarily within the African, soul, latin, RnB, jazz and folk genres. Next week’s showcase will feature vocalist-guitarist, Xoli MJ, Afro-soul singer Vuyokazi, and funk rock guitarist, Urban.

XoliMj has a bag full of dreams, passion and soulful lyrics. She is a singer, song writer and a music lover.  
Xoliswa Mjekula, the mother of one, hails from the Eastern Cape and currently resides in Lombardy East, Johannesburg.
“My genre is folk music, but I call it DopeFolk. I have been working with Pilani Bubu, another folk artist that I met through Mandisa Bardill. I write music with a message based on life experiences and situations I've seen and some that I lived through,” said Xoliswa.  
Like most up and coming artists who are pushing the hustle on the side, she has a Monday to Friday, eight to five job. She added: “I studied business admin and management. I am now working as a pastel assistant in accounts for a small firm in Bedfordview, Joburg.”
Xoliswa said that she fell in love with music from the tender age of 13 but didn't have the confidence and means to pursue it. But thanks to Idols SA season seven, that passion for music was stirred and she gained all the confidence and reassurance she needed to follow her heart. She took part in the competition in 2011. She made it to the top 60 – group stages.

She added: “The experience was good and bad but mostly an eye opener, which drove me to actually pursue music seriously. When I left Idols, I doubted myself and wondered if I’m actually meant for this. I was broken and wondered if this really was my path. I didn't sing or wanna be seen on stage anywhere, until one day friend, Cynthia Ayeza, told me to shake it off and be who I was destined to be. I got up and haven't stopped pushing since.”

After Idols SA she joined the worship team at her church and started pursuing her music career. “Then one day Mandisa Bardill spotted me at Nikkis when I was performing with some friends.”
Mandisa Bardill is founder and managing director of Bardill Entertainment, which provides event services and also serves as an artist booking agency. She is the brain behind the Up & Coming initiative.  She said: “I started it in March 2011. It was born out of what I saw was a real need for our local emerging artists to have a platform to showcase their talents. I had the opportunity to meet many talented artists during the opening and closing ceremonies of both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup in my role as segment producer. Their stories and frustrations inspired me to start the Up & Coming platform. We also invite members of the music and entertainment industries to the shows every last Wednesday of the month, in the hope of creating further opportunities for the featured artists. To date, we have showcased about 140 local music artists at Up & Coming, the brand that has become known as Jozi's number one live music showcase.”

And of course, XoliMJ is excited to be on the line-up. But this is just the beginning.
She said in the next five years she wants to be “that artist who has been able to spread her music to any ear or heart that needs comfort encouragement and love. I want to take my music to the hearts of men and women. My music talent will go where God leads it.”

She added: “The hustle is hard, most times I ask myself if I’ll ever make it in this business, but the burning desire and being assured by a power beyond me that I’ll succeed drives me.
What does the future hold for determined Xoliswa?

“I am not signed by any label. I was never really after any label from the start. I'm finalising my single now. The album will be determined by how the single does. I won't jump into an album now. I’ll probably follow on with an EP, something in extension to the single. I take things one day at a time and if it gets harder, I take it one minute at a time,” she concluded. 

*This article was also published on on 28 July 2015.

We spoke to International DJ's Schlachthofbronx on their Sub-Saharan Africa tour

The duo that make up Schlachthofbronx: Jakob and Benedict. Photo by David Rasche. 

By Refilwe Thobega
Last week Tuesday German DJs Schlachthofbronx played a live set at Kong Club in Rosebank, Joburg as part of their tour through Sub-Saharan Africa.
The event was hosted and organised by the Goethe-Institut. Benjamin Keuffel, PR officer at the institute, said: "The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. It promotes the study of German abroad and encourages international cultural exchange. Whenever possible, we organise workshops and get togethers with local artists. For example, in the recent TEN CITIES project this idea has led to a variety of musical collaborations between major cities in Africa and Europe, enabling about 50 DJs, producers and musicians to co-operate and produce music together."
Schlachthofbronx, made up of Jakob (32) and Benedict (34), are  known for a very particular sound that is not only influenced by traditional Bavarian music, but also by rave, dancehall, dubstep, baile funk, bounce, and cumbia. 
The event in Rosebank was attended by a mixed audience of people interested in innovative electronic music, as well as some media representatives and bloggers.
Introducing themselves Benedict said: "We play music that you could put into a lot of different genres: dancehall, hip hop, techno, dub, footwork, etc. But as we play nearly exclusively our own music, it always is something special and has our own twist on it."
Jakob added: "Basically, we ‘re in the studio during the week, producing new tracks, and do a lot of cooking in our off time. And you know, the usual..."
The guys are both from Munich, Germany. "It’s a pretty nice and wealthy small city. So growing up there was pretty standard for Germany" said Jakob. He added that they knew each other for a long time because they were in the same circle of friends. Then in 2008 they got into talking music and started to work on some stuff together."
About the event, the guys said: "We were happy some friends and people turned up. We even had die-hard fans driving to the Rosebank event from soweto, so it was good to hangout as well."
When asked about what they enjoyed and hated about what they did, they said: "The best thing about what we do is we get to meet so many different people and get to travel to so many exciting places. That is really rewarding and always mind-opening. The hardest thing is difficult to say, as we know our 'job' is a pretty nice one as we are able to do what we love and make a living out of it. Maybe the actual travelling, like sitting in an overbooked early morning plane after you just got from a club playing, heading out to the next thing without sleep or food, sometimes can get a little demanding, but it’s part of the whole greater thing so we will never complain."
About their thoughts on Mzansi and the Rosebank event Jakob said: "We actually played in Bassline in 2009, together with a friend we collaborated with, spoek mathambo. So it was really nice coming back to SA and Joburg. We love the city, the food and the scene."
After the SA event, The DJs are travelling to YaoundĂ©, Cameroon, then to  Kampala, Uganda. Then they will be going to end the tour in Nairobi before heading back to the festival season in Europe.
"The tour has been great so far. It’s an amazing journey. You can get our album as a free download via No strings attached. Just because we love you," the happy duo said. 
*This article was published on on 18 May 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lerato got the chance to see Crepuscule. And her review of the play proves she's also one to look out for .

Lerato Modibedi

On Friday 17 July 2015 at Market Theatre, I saw a play called Crepuscule. The play is an adaptation of a short story written by Can Themba. It is about a love affair between a married white woman and a black man in Sophiatown. Set in the 1950s/60’s when interracial relationships where illegal according to the Immorality Act, it shows two people who are willing to risk their lives because of what they feel for each other.

Directed by Khanyelihle Don  Gumede, a dynamic and award winning young director, performed by Leroy Gopal as (Can Themba), Kate Liquorish as  (Jean Hart), Lerato Mvelase as (Baby/Kleinboy), Conrad Kemp as (Malcom), Thami Ngoma as (Lethabo/Mama Dora).

Can Themba works as a journalist for Drum magazine. He is smart and sharp in speech. With a charming personality, he is something of a lady’s man. Jennifer is a young petit lady, who is a photographer, born in South Africa and educated in London where she met her husband.
In one of Jean’s trips around Johannesburg, she meets a gentleman who offers to carry her bags. “Why do you want to carry my bags, do I look incapable?” she said. This leads to an interesting conversation between strangers. Jean is swept off her feet by Can’s sharp responses and starts to enjoy his company.

After a few of these meetings, Can invites her over to Sophiatown where he stayed. She’s met with disapproval by the family but Can continues to charm his way into her life. Unable to resist Can, they sneak around dodging the police in Sophiatown. He takes her to the sheeben, where she met his friends, Kleinboy and Stan.

They joked together, enjoyed alcohol, and then spent the nights together. This is an illegal love affair – with a white, married woman – that would get them into deep trouble. Can finds himself cast in a world whose rules detail how he’s life is supposed to play out, who he’s supposed to be and who he is supposed to fall in love with.

In between scenes the characters sang local jazz music which was popular at the time. The dancing invited the audience and interacted with them. The style of dressing was your elegant man’s wear, suits and hats, and cocktail dresses in bright colours and matching heels for the ladies. The actions during the song made it more effective as it added character to the performance and made it more interesting.

Lerato Mvelase stands out in the two characters she plays. From the local drunk guy, to Can’s local girlfriend, her acting and stage presence is exceptional. Leroy Gopal’s electric voice cut through the audience and commanded you to listen. The dialogue was natural. The writer did a sterling job.
It really opened my eyes to ideas and proved to me that if you really put your mind to it, you can come up with such creative, unique and simple ideas that have a huge impact on to the audience. It also taught me that you don’t need a huge production with huge costumes to create a power performance. This work will inspire conversation about who we are trying to become as a growing nation and what remains from our dark and strong past.

By Lerato Modibedi

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lebogang Oagile went to see Crepuscule at the Market Theatre ... And this is his take.

Deep in the wells of the South African literary canon, Can Themba is surfaced through the works of theatre practitioner Khayelihle Dom Gumede. The Wits University graduate, through the mentorship of Kgafela wa Magodi, has dug deep into the archives to bring together a production running at the Market Theatre. Crepuscule – is an adaptation of one of Can Themba’s short stories by the same title.
Set in the infamous Spohiatown – the cultural mecca of Johannesburg that gave birth to some of the most influential figures in South African history, Crepuscule explores Themba’s love affair with a white women, an act which under the apartheid regime was forbidden by law.

It is against this love story that the play introduces the world of Can Themba. The role of Can is played by Leroy Gopal, who depicts the character of Themba as a charming and witty intellectual who is full of energy. But it is later revealed that beyond this charm and wit is a pessimistic mind with and an optimistic spirit.

Can’s charm proves to be too great for an up-class white woman to resist. Can romantic pursuit, Jean Hart, is played by Kate Liquorish. Jean is born in South Africa but is raised in Britain. She returns to South Africa along with her wealthy husband, who is in pursuit of investment opportunities. Through his charm and wit, Themba convinces her to come and explore Sophiatown. 
She is mesmerised by the scenery and culture of the slum. Perhaps one can argue that to her,  Can was the embodiment of Sophiatown. It at first appeared to be the case of an eager and intrigued woman flirting with danger…devouring a forbidden fruit. Such an analogy, it would appear, is one Can was also aware of. She, however, dispels Can’s belief that her interests were rooted solely on the prospects of Can’s anatomy as it was believed to be the case with white woman and black men during that period.

Can’s affair with a white woman is met with skepticism by his mother and his two confidants and drinking partners. Themba’s mother, played by Thami Ngoma. She is quick to warn Jean that she is just one of the many romantic escapades her son has had. Themba’s life is disrupted by Jean as she explicitly states that their affair to her was not merely a case of fetishism but that she had fallen in love with him. Can’s situation is further antagonised by his girlfriend discovering about his illicit affair. Themba’s girlfriend, Baby, is played by the talented and Emmy-nominated Lerato Mvelase – who did very well on this play. She switches with so such ease between two roles of Baby and Kleinboy.  

The 82-minute long production offers a bit of everything, but is not tamed by one specific thing. An infusion of poetic lingua and melancholic music is executed to perfection by the talented cast. As can be expected, political rhetoric is not absent in this unorthodox love story. For most theatre enthusiasts, political rhetoric often tends to plague any work of theatre, perhaps this can be argued for all works of art. However, in Crepuscule, one is made aware of the body politic but there is no real sense of imposition from the play to the audience.

Can, who along with other prolific black writers such as Nat Naksa, Es’kia Mphahlele, and Henry Nxumalo, worked as a journalist for Drum magazine – the first notable publication that represented the voice of black people in the metropolis. It is during his years at Drum that Can established himself as the prodigal son of South African literature. Though not widely published as some of his peers, notably Mphahlele, Can is highly revered for his coverage and portrayal of the hardships of African lives during the apartheid regime. 

Dubbed the “shebeen intellectual”, it is alleged that Can struggled with chronic alcohol use, which would later be the cause of what some suggest was the premature death of the Drum journalist.
The skeleton of love as the main force behind the narrative brings to the fore salient themes which are undertaken in the play. Perhaps one which prevails supreme is that of the ambiguities of apartheid and its effects thereof. For Jean who’s encounters with the “forbidden fruit” disrupted not only her marriage, but brought her whole world as she knew it into question. And most importantly, it would seem that for Themba, the resulting factor of his endeavors re-affirmed what he had already believed.

Lebogang Oagile    

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Drago Lo makes a grand entrance (full article)

He says he is that Christian boy from the hood who grew up to be Drago Lo the entertainer, creator, thinker, a free spirit, lover and child of the arts. His real name is Xolani Kubheka and he was born and bred in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni.

Xolani said growing up in the kasi made him strong. “Thokoza and Kathorus made me.  Growing up there was real and the community raised me. We are the product of our experiences, our past and present shape us though we choose what they shape us into. I'm grateful to have grown up in Ekurhuleni. Bezikhipha ekasi.

The young rapper says he has always known that music was his thing. He started writing poetry and plays at age 14 and started writing music in 2010. He said: “When I started writing music I knew that it was my passion. Nothing else made more sense from that point.  While growing up, music and dance helped me cope. They were my outlets and refuge from the world and all its pains. These art forms also brought me a lot of joy. And I want to share that joy with the world.

Drago Lo’s new album will be released on 26 June. “Grand Entrance is a 14-track masterpiece. It is about my journey and growth as an artist, lyricist and a visionary. It’s me introducing myself to the game and the masses. It’s me saying: hey, I have something different, this is how I view the world; see it through my eyes. This is my story.”

It will be available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, EMusic, Nokia music, Rdio, Last FM, Rhapsody, Digital Virgo, Beats Music, Bozza 37616 store and 20 other digital music stores.

About the album, Xolani said: “It's an album made for the club but still has some stories my joy, my life and pain that speak to the heart. It's a sound that hasn't been done by South African hip hop. The project is a double-disc album titled Tomorrow's Yesterday. We'll be dropping both halves of the album digitally before we put out the double disc physical copies on the shelf. Grand Entrance is the first half of Tomorrow’s Yesterday.  The Second half titled Black And White Colour Film will drop later.

He added that he was pleased that the project came out exactly the way he intended.

“I have a few gigs lined up for the month of June, around the country and in Gaborone, Botswana.  We have a possible national club tour in August or maybe in the fourth quarter. Follow me on all my social media accounts for gig info Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @IamDragoLo. To book me or any of my artists email: or or call Tumo Tsotetsi: 072 707 9132. 

By Refilwe Thobega
@Refilwe Thobega

*This article was published on Sun Buzz on 23 June 2015.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nhlanhla, who is ready to invade Mzansi's entertainment scene, chats to Refilwe Thobega

If his Twitter bio is anything to go by, then this is one busy man. It reads: TV producer, disk jockey, technology and gadget reviewer and music producer.

Nhlanhla Sibande (24) from Diepkloof, Soweto says 2015 is definitely his year to soar. “I have been working underground for so long, so this is my time to come out,” he said.

Nhlanhla’s busy schedule includes regularly DJing at Liquid Chefs in Rosebank. When he spoke to me, he was heading to Pietermaritzburg to play at Sprytz. The man of many talents, who looks up to Lulo CafĂ©, said he had a lot on his plate. “I was on CliffCentral about three weeks ago doing a technology and gadget review on Arye Kellman’s radio show. I have also worked on and off screen,” he added. 

Last year he appeared on Vuzu’s Real Jozi A listers. He did a coke advert in 2012. TV productions he has worked on include SA’s Got Talent Season Five, where he worked as a camera assistant, focus puller and sound boom swinger.

“I was also part of the team that worked on Khuli Chana’s Hazardous Moves music video, directed Thabang Moleya,” he said.

Asked what he was currently working on, he said: “I am working on what I think is going to be one of Mzansi’s biggest tracks in 2015. I have created the beats and Sammy Sosa of Channel O and Metro FM will do the vocals.” Nhlanhla even has the song on his smartphone. He allowed me to listen to it and it turned out he was not just blowing his own horn. The raw song did sound good.

“My dream is to have the song played in 90% of Mzansi’s radio stations that play house music. I have also been working on a project with Bricks.” He says when it comes to music, his motto is: Classic over hit.

For Nhleks, as he is affectionately known, the sky is not the limit – there is no limit. 
“I think I am multi-talented as far as the entertainment industry is concerned. This is what I was made for. I have to use one platform to show what I’ve got and that will create a platform for my other skills and projects to come to the fore. 
I know I’m going to succeed because of my faith in God and the support that I’m getting from my mom, girlfriend and my team,” he said. 

This article was also published on Daily Sun's entertainment section, Sun Buzz.