Tag Archives: Toni Stuart

Jam That Session 07 April- Review

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Andy Mkosi &Obie Mavuso

Last month DJ Ruth Pearl Molteno played at Jam that session. A few mutual friends and I decided to check her out. When we got there however, the venue had reached its capacity we and couldn’t get in. This sucked.I love seeing Ruth play. I watched one of Ruth’s very first performances at a gig I had a hand in hosting called, Soul School, where  Gary Arsenic played too.

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Roché Kester, Gary Arscenic, Ruth Pearl Molteno

Being shunned from the gig,  left me with a weird feeling. Like there was an exclusivity to it, and it kind of made me wonder  “what’s all the fuss about and why the hell can’t I get in?”. Now however,  I can totally attest why there should be a fuss about Jam that Session.

While doing Love Psalms at the Baxter I met an array of artists. Mfundo Ntobongwana was one of them. While talking to him backstage found, I found  out that he was involved in the production of Jam that Session. I then said (‘cause I’m forward like that) “put me on the list to perform” ( I might have threatened him too, I can’t recall, it’s such a blur) .   As the universe works, if you ask,  it is given, so I was confirmed to performed at Jam that Session on the 7TH of April

The sound check was scheduled for 11:00 am. It took me a while to find the venue, I had only been to Ragazzi when it was in Long street, but now the venue  has moved to 7 Loop street. It was great though, walking through the city, I felt very poetry Cape Town. I had decided to channel poet/ performer Natasha Tafari that day.  Natasha ran this gig in Cape Town called Words worth saying, which was really a great platform for artists .I was immediately  intrigued by her. Not only was her poetry brilliant, but this was a woman with guts. She was soooo hip hop and managed to be a boss in high heels and a long skirt. I won’t ever forget how cool she looked, so when thinking about what to wear, my ensemble was immediately a throwback to Natasha.

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Bukiwe Zinganto and The Unity Band

The sound check never really happened, but I was there and this gave me time to mingle. I met the owners of the brand Jam that Session, Andy Mkosi and Obie Mavuso. On their production team is Mfundo Ntobongwana , Mawetu Matyila, Sam Lehoko and Ntsika Bradaki.

To start the Jam, The Unity band , consisting of Lumanyano Mzi, Brandon Hendrix  and Gideon Gidz accompanied Nyanga singer Bukiwe Zinganto. They really got the crowd going. Additionally the band invited Mfundo on stage and he recited a poem  ,that I’m totally in love with, called “Dear Future Wife”. Mfundo seduces with his words , and in the most gentlemanly manner too.  I’m sure most of those ladies in the audience were riling to be his future wife with poetry like that.

Up next was Nique-Floe Sithole. Nique also performed with me at Love Psalms. He has the ability to paint the most beautiful images with his words. Nique recited two poems and he was absolutely amazing.

Nique-Floe Sithole

Nique-Floe Sithole

The audience was then blessed by the wonderful Lebogang Nova Masango. Lebogang hails from Jozi and literally just pulled through to do one poem. This woman is powerful. The title of her poem A love Supreme : A lesson to poetry women and Jazz men” which was quite apt considering it was the International Jazz Festival in Cape Town that weekend as well. Lebogang had the audience sipping on her words as if it was a good glass of wine. The purrs and murmurs that resounded from the audience spoke to the depth and insight she conveyed.Lebogang was also part of the renowned Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Festival in Jozi (2011).

Lebogang Nova Masango

Lebogang Nova Masango

Kneo  Mokgopa then stepped to the stage. I find Kneo very interesting. He has the calmest demur before show time, I’m the total opposite-completely hyper. As soon as he steps on the stage though, he completely transforms. He becomes this ball of energy that gets you mesmerized. He performed the extended version of his poem “I dare you to love me”. Kneo will be representing South Africa as part of the Vocal Revolutions team that will that will be touring to Chicago in August.

Kneo Mokgopa

Kneo Mokgopa

Roché Kester

Roché Kester

I then performed two pieces and that  stage immediately felt like home. I was apprehensive about performing at Jam that session, given the array of acts and considering I couldn’t get in last month made me think it was a party vibe, not   conducive to poetry, but my fears were totally irrational. It felt like everyone actually listened and internalized what had been said. I’ll state without an inkling of a doubt that Jam that Session is an amazing platform for poets.I totally endorse it.

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Comic Book: 15 April, Little Theatre, 8PM

Koleka Putuma

Koleka Putuma

Reeling from stage high, a phenomenon that will be explained in a later blog, I fixed my eyes to the stage where the remarkable Koleka Putuma worked it out. I sometimes make the joke that Koleka is the artist formally known as Coco. When Koleka started doing poetry she was dubbed  Coco, but then one day she plainly stated on Facebook that she would like to be known as Koleka. I don’t blame this sister, she can call herself whatever she wants ‘cause when it comes down to it, she can irrefutably back it up.

What I love most about Coco is that she is a real writer.She is a skilled, concise writer , whose words mask so many meanings and metaphors and you are actually left in awe by how layered her work is.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes and a great performer. Coco IS theatre and coincidentally, she is training at UCT in this art form. Please go check out the play she’ll be in soon called Comic Book. I’ll definitely be writing more about Coco in the future, she’s someone to watch.

Flo'Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni

Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni then hit the stage with lots of finesse and a no holds barred kind of style.

Mfundo Ntobongwana, Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe,Kgothatso Motshele

Mfundo Ntobongwana,Kgothatso Motshele Jacqui ThePoet Dichabe.

To conclude the poetry section of the event Jaqui ThePoet Dichabe, Mfundo Ntobongwana  and Kgothasto Motshele graced the stage. As mentioned, Mfundo performed with me at Love Psalms and Kgothatso was also part of that show. Mfundo will be joining the Vocal Revolution team in America, playing  mentoring role for the participating contestants .

Kgothatso  is definitely something  magnificent . She has the softest  nature and she is so in tune with who she is, that it permeates so effortlessly through her work. She has the same ability that Mbali Vilikazi has with regard to storytelling. She states what she has to say plainly , but it touches because it’s so true, it is wonderful to watch her.

The three poets performed a piece simultaneously and props has to be given to them for being innovative.  After their performance Mfundo stated that he was really privileged to share the stage with Jaqui The Poet. Jaqui has been performing in Cape Town for ten years. This was the first time I witnessed her on stage. She also acts as mentor to both Mfundo and Kgothatso and if the work of these poets is testament to her work, she must be a brilliant mentor.

Loyiso Mkize

Loyiso Mkize

As the theme for this month was visual arts , the guest speaker was talented Loyiso Mkize . I have seen his art posted on Facebook and immediately liked it.Actually meeting him and speaking to him  was  rather something.

Loyiso spoke about two of his artworks, and let me tell you, this brother is for real. There is so much detail in his art and the symbolism in it , that I’m left to agree with him when he said  that just as these poets create with their words “I paint poetry”.

Loyiso is brilliant and he is also still in awe of how his art has influenced people. He said the best feeling is when younger artists deem him as inspiration. Loyiso spoke on freedom and how our generation of artists have the ability to redefine who want to be. He also has the utmost respect for women and spoke of them as queens- my kind of brother.

Jam that Session provided some magic- literally. Meet Jason, who managed to swop a card from my mouth to his, it was very crazy.

A performance by Selwalesizwe, a perscussion group, with a lead singer that pierces the soul.

 Jason Lamy.

Jason Lamy.

Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

Selwalesiwe :Sonwabile Mhlonyane, Nthabeleng Nthabie Jafta, Vuyani Lesiea

I met the members of Green Grass Grow. The performed with Mongz Baritone are they are fantastic. This group, who are a  kaleidoscope of cultures,  translates music through a  unique  sound .

I also managed to experience The Fam before they hit the stage. These gents are MC’s of the highest order. I was sitting outside with my friends and they just started spitting rhymes about us sitting there.I have mad respect for MC’s their ability and talent are true manifestations of God, they are insane.

Mc's spitting timeless rhymes.

Mc’s spitting timeless rhymes.

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

The Fam: Kuthula Magubane, Silo Sithole , Thokozani Khoza, Lungelo Dlamini

I have to give a shout out to the Dj’s that held it down. Your jams had the jammers going! Apologies to the acts I never got to see, I had to slip even though the party was still in full force when I left. Apologies to those that are not mentioned.

It was great being able to meet everyone and talk art . My last blog post

https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/this-is-not-hollywood-or-the-uk-or-or-or/ I made some  tongue-in-cheek  comments with regard to being paid for one’s art form.

I however, omitted that it is not that easy as I made it out to be. Obie informed me that the entry fee just about covers the venue, the bouncers and the sound engineer for the event.  If you’ve ever organized a gig, you know that this in itself is a pretty penny.

We did discuss that by getting your event to be reputable, then allowing you to  apply for various sponsorships, which would hopefully lighten the load. Sponsorships also you the prospect of then paying your artists. Obie let me know that they are in talks for sponsorship and that paying the artists   performing at Jam that Session,   is something they are working toward.

Given that I was a performer at the gig, I do have a few tips for the organizers.  Clear communication is imperative, so with regard to sound checks, whoever is organizing the event should set the sound check closer to the time of the gig, in that way not having your artists mill around unnecessarily.

This is a tough one,  but my advice to organizers is to start on time, or at least an half-hour after the scheduled time of the event.   I understand the logic in waiting longer to pull a bigger crowd for the performers, but, one can’t  neglect the audience members who were punctual.

Sending  the set list to your performers before the event also helps so that you create a line of communication and  give your artists and idea of what to expect before hand.

If possible, only have the equipment needed on stage  for a specific performance. Too many electronics and instruments on the stage create an eyesore for your audience and may also hinder the artist’s performances.

Further than that, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. It reminded me of a mixture of  Nicole Biondi’s (nee Moody) monthly  Verses  that took place at the old Zula bar  and it also showed resemblances to Toni Stuart and Kent Lingeveldt’s   Expression Sessions, that occurred at the former   Ragazzi.

Jam that Session is cool, l because it allows for all art forms and contrary to my initial perception, this event is not exclusive, but evidently  inclusive.

Check them out here : Jam that Session to support their monthly show.


A picture is worth more than a thousand words.

Back row (left to right): Winslow Schalkwyk, Mbali Vilikazi. Front row: Jill Levenberg, Roxanne Blaise, Tshego Khutsoane,Quitintin Jistvinger Goliath, Primrose Mrwebi, Khadija Heeger. Below: Malika NdlovuPhoto: Toni Stuart

Back row (left to right): Winslow Schalkwyk, Mbali Vilakazi.
Front row: Jill Levenberg, Roxanne Blaise, Tshego Khutsoane,Quitintin Jistvinger Goliath, Primrose Mrwebi, Khadija Heeger.
Below: Malika Ndlovu
Photo: Toni Stuart

Imagine being in a room with the crème de la crème of Cape Town‘s art  and poetry scene and not being aware of that! I’m sure that this was the experience of many of the students attending the ‘Arts Aweh!’ portion of Infecting the city 2013. ‘Arts Aweh!’,  managed by Malika Ndlovu, provided  performing art workshops for 500 grade 10–12 learner’s from diverse schools across Cape Town through a facilitated experience of the Festival. These workshops were led by : Winslow Schalkwyk, Mbali Vilikazi, Jill Levenberg, Roxanne Blaise, Tshego Khutsoane, Quintin Jitsvinger Goliath, Primrose Mrwebi and Khadija Tracey Heeger .

A story of my experience in relation to most of them has been formed, and I thought it necessary to share why these artists being captured altogether the above image is definitely to be noted.

winslow

Winslow Schalkwyk

I met Winslow when I was 16 years old, at church. I was in the same confirmation class as his brother and the then priest asked him to facilitate some group building sessions for the confirmants. Imagine my surprise four years later , Winslow and I were doing the same course at University ! Upon getting to know Winslow, I thought he was eccentric and larger than life. We soon became good friends .I then found out that he performed poetry and had been doing so for a while. I actually had no idea what this “performing poetry” entailed, but it piqued my interest and one evening I decided to see a show of his.

I was completely shell-shocked after I had witnessed his performance. He was a powerhouse on stage and more so, the content of his work moves one. Winslow uses words and sounds to address the social state of our land. Additionally there is a spiritual element permeating his work and it is impossible to remain a  passive spectator when he is on stage. You are engaged , you feel his words spill over you and penetrate you. You feel as if you’re caught in the piece of history in the making, that is Winslow. After the show he asked me what I thought, and in all honesty, I battled to speak. I could not believe that I had been around him all this time and that only then I was exposed to the height of his greatness. Winslow Schalkwyk taught me to become a groupie and he is the reason I was intimidated  and respected anyone that wrote and performed their poetry.

Winslow Schalkwyk , Roché Kester

Winslow Schalkwyk , Roché Kester

After my initial shock, I built up the courage to tell Winslow that I wrote poetry myself. I told him not to judge it too harshly, they were all love poems that I had written since 16 and I had never really let anyone read it except for the people it was meant for. He glanced over a few an told me I should perform it. I thought he was crazy, I could never do what I witnessed him do, but he persisted and eventually I complied .

My first performance took place at UWC’s Ithuba arts festival in May 2008 alongside Winslow. Being on stage was daunting, but so exhilarating, the audience seemed to like what I had to say and I was immediately addicted to the feeling of sharing my writing. Fast forward to 2012 and I find myself at an event where I’m honoured to share the same stage as this  magnificently talented poet who gave me my start. Even until this day, I still battle to speak to him after his shows, even if we have performed at the same event. See Winslow at TEDx Cape Town 2012. Winslow’s show Freedom Dialogue also featured at The Grahamstown National Arts Festival (2012).

Khadija Tracey Heeger

Khadija Tracey Heeger

Since I had been bitten by the poetry bug, a friend and I decided to attend the 2008 Spier Poetry Exchange. It was there that I first encountered the phenomenon that is Khadija Tracey Heeger. Khadija had a show called Stone words and it was more than just poetry. This was theatre- complete with a set, musicians and  amidst it all a woman who exuded mounds of energy. The show also toured to The Grahamstown National Arts Festival (2009).

Khadija presented awe-inspiring poetry and she is completely fearless in her writing and also willing to tread where many are afraid to. She is a change agent and her writing is seated in the historical and social realities of South Africa which many so easily neglect. She is the voice that reminds one to not forget what people of colour have endured in this land. After her performance I turned to my friend and said “I want to do that someday”.

Then in March 2009 I entered a poetry competition for Africa Day. Low and behold, along with Winslow,  Khadija was one of the judges of the competition. Again, as with Winslow I was unable to speak. Here she was, a woman I had idolized for so long,  in the flesh. Eventually I had to get over my groupie ways because Khadija facilitated the group that I was part of. She overflows with knowledge and this may be a testament to her great teaching skills, but I managed to place 2nd in that competition. Meeting her was a real highlight for me.

Primrose Mrwebi

Primrose Mrwebi

There is something regal about Primrose. She is so composed and somehow exudes royalty. She seems to have a serious demeanor, but it quickly becomes apparent that she feels everything intensely. Coincidentally, Primrose was also one of the judges for the Africa Day competition. At the end of the competition she bestowed the entrants of the competition the grace of hearing her poetry.

Primrose’s style is much like my impression of her. She is poised, direct and emotes her poetry with strength. Her writing is liquid and flows from her with ease. Last year she judged another competition I entered and when she offered advice to the entrants, it spoke to her years of experience of her craft. I bumped into Primrose about three weeks ago at the Baxter theatre  after I performed at gig called Love Psalms. She was in the audience and could not verbalize enough just how much poetry moved her. “Poetry can change things, poetry can move mountains, poetry, poetry poetry!” is what she said.

Malika Ndlovu

Malika Ndlovu

I first saw Malika perform at Off the Wall. There is a nurturing quality about Malika, to me she is the matriarch of the spoken word industry in South Africa. Malika’s  voice is completely entrancing. You can’t help but be transfixed when she speaks. Her poetry is concise and it retains a meditative quality.

She is a playwright, author and performer  who uses her art as a means to ignite healing. The next time I saw Malika share has passion, was during the 2009 Cape Town Book fair where she read from her book titled Invisible earthquake. Her book is written in such lyrical prose that when read by her , it irrefutable relates as poetry .

In 2011 I entered the DFL Lover+ Another National Poetry competition when I went for the auditions it was hard for me not to faint. I was doing poetry in front of Malika Ndlovu. More so I managed to make it pass the first round and as luck would have it Malika accompanied the top three contestants to Johannesburg , so imagine my internal glee by just being able to be in her presence. Wisdom just permeates from her an there is actually an aura of calm which radiates from her. She lives her art.

Mauree Dube, Roché Kester, Lwanda Sindaphi, Malika Ndlovu

DFL Cape Town regionals finalists (2011): Maureen Dube, Roché Kester, Lwanda Sindaphi, Malika Ndlovu

Mbali Vilikazi

Mbali Vilakazi

Mbali Vilakazi is ethereal. She moves like an angel and similar to Primrose she emanates something majestic. Mbali is a story-teller. When she speaks she evokes the image of having a tribe sit around a fire , just listening to ancient wisdom.

Winslow ran a series of poetry workshops called ‘Water, cycles and cyphers’ which culminated in an anthology of the participants work and ultimately a performance by the participants at Obz Café. My good friend let me perform a poem at his event and thereafter,  he and Mbali lit up the stage. She provided vocal accompaniment to Winslow that evening and despite not reciting a poem, Mbali still maintained a strong stage presence.

Mbali was also a judge in the DFL Lover+ Another National Poetry competition. As if it wasn’t enough that Malika was a judge, there was Mbali, I’m really surprised that I never fainted that day. The top 3 participants worked very closely with Mbali and if you ever encounter Mbali, don’t be fooled by her stature. Internally there resides a force to be reckoned with. She pushed us in those workshops and knew exactly how to highlight our strengths and fine tune our limitations. She managed to coach me to the point where I delved into the meaning of my poem so much that it moved me to tears.

Mbali Vilikazi

Mbali Vilakazi at Badilisha’s 100 Thousand Poets for change. (2011)

Since then, I’ve shared the stage with Mbali at two separate events at 100 Thousand Poets For Change – Badilisha Poetry and another initiative of Winslow’s named the Free flow sessions. Even backstage after my performance Mbali offered advice, I had announced to the audience that I was performing my last poem and she advised that it was better to keep them in suspense and hold their attention by foregoing that information. ‘Nobody teaches you these techniques’, she said, “these are things you just pick up as you go along”, luckily for me, in that moment I did have someone to teach me that technique.

Mbali was also part of TEDx Cape Town (2012). She was also awarded Gold for in the Poetry Olympics (2012).

Roxanne Blaise

Roxanne Blaise

I met Roxanne during the 2011 DFL competition. She obtained first place in the regional competition and what was remarkable was, that it was the first poem she had ever written.

Roxanne is fore mostly an actress. She has appeared in many stage productions and was also a cast member of Malika’s play titled Sister Breyani. Needless to say Roxanne is out-of-this-world on stage. She emotes so powerfully that I had to fight back the tears every time she recited her poem. She is just that good.

Unfortunately Roxanne had to perform in a play  and was unable to go to Johannesburg to compete in the nationals where I’m sure she would have knocked everyone’s socks of there as well.

Roxanne is currently performing at the KKNK (2013) in a play called Die Rebellie van Lafras Verwey.

Malika Ndlovu, Lwanda Sindaphi, Roxanne Blaise, Roché Kester

DFL 2011: Malika Ndlovu, Lwanda Sindaphi, Roxanne Blaise, Roché Kester, Mbali Vilakazi

Quintin Jitsinger Goliath

Quintin Jitsinger Goliath

I was asked to recite Maya Angelou’s “In and out of time” at a friend’s wedding and as fate would have it, Quintin was seated at the same table as me. When I saw him I said “you look so familiar” and he smiled knowingly, but offered nothing else. It was bothering me and after telling almost everyone around the table that he looked familiar, it was revealed that he was the Afrikaans rapper named Jitsvinger. Then it all clicked. Amoung other things Jits was a contributing cast member and performer of the critically acclaimed theatre production called Afrikaaps, a play which explores the multiculturalism of Afrikaans as spoken in Cape Town. Jitsvinger , along with Jethro Louw also performed at the wedding and they were amazing.

The next time I saw Jits perform was when he collaborated alongside Gary Arscenic in an event dubbed Jitsenic. The performance was crazy, while Jits rapped , Gary played accompanying beats. Jitsvinger’s location within the performance /rap/spoken word scene is quite similar to Adam Small‘s within literature. He has made rapping in Afrikaans so cool by incorporating musical accompaniment and colloquialisms that are spoken by many of Cape Towns ‘coloured’ community everyday.  During the show he stopped and asked ” Is daar ‘n poet in die company”  ( Is there a poet in the company) and of course I could not deny myself so I  raised my hand and he called me forward. ” Okay, jy doen net jou ding en dan sal ek en Arscenic net saam speel” ( You do your thing and then Arscenic and I will accompany you). I started reciting my poem and like magic these two artists filled it out with the guitar and beats, it was completely impromptu, but it sounded like it been  rehearsed for ages. Now that is artistry!

Jitsvinger was also a judge at the DLF Lover+ Another 2012 competition.

Primrose Mrwebi, Lwanda Sindaphi, Phulula Sidlayi, Willy Rapholo, Mbongeni Nomkonwana, Quintin Jitsvinger Goliath, Toni Stuart, Koleke Patuma, Roché Kester

DFL top 6 2012:Primrose Mrwebi, Lwanda Sindaphi, Phulula Sidlayi, Willy Rapholo, Mbongeni Nomkonwana, Quintin Jitsvinger Goliath, Toni Stuart, Koleke Patuma, Roché Kester

Toni Stuart

Toni Stuart

Behind the lens of this picture sits Toni Stuart who was the Logistics Coordinator for ‘Arts Aweh! 2013’. Toni is remarkable in the sense that she is not only writer, performer, events coordinator, a teacher, but also an activist. Toni uses her art to get behind causes she believes in and though her nature is reserved there is a definite fire of passion burning inside her.

I had heard about Toni long  before meeting her. We met at the Cape Town book fair (2012) at a designated section called the Poetry Café . I was there promoting an anthology  I had been published in titled  This is My Land.

Toni also shared her poetry at the event. Toni knows how to write poetry. Her writing is of the best I’ve ever encountered. Her use of structure, form and all the other poetic devices are on point and is deeply entrenched in traditional forms of poetry. She managed to relate the most beautiful moments through her poetry.

Somehow after that the universe decided that I should see Toni everywhere! She was the coordinator for 2012’s DFL competition and I entered again , not in the hope of winning, but just to share a poem I needed to release. A snowball of events occurred after the competition and this meant constant contact.

Toni is also a cofounder , alongside Nicole le Roux, of a youth community initiative called I Am Somebody.

Toni is a doer and if things need to done in poetry, art or activism, she is definitely the one to call.

I have yet to meet Jill Levenberg and Tshego Khutsoane, but as life and art will have it,  nothing is impossible.