From these streets to the White House: Mi Casa takes it to Obama
“People heard we were from South Africa and were expecting some black dudes and suddenly they got two black guys and a white guy.”
Mi Casa frontman J-Something beams as he describes playing at US President Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 21, 2013.
“It was a culture shock and it really opened our eyes to the bigger picture, that we were not Mi Casa the band. We were the ambassadors of our country”
Trumpeter Mo-T says although they didn’t get to meet the man himself, it was a blessing and an honour to be given the chance to be South Africa’s representatives at such a great platform.
J-Something says: “We learnt so much from that one performance, and the potential of our music to cross cultural barriers, and to play for this man who means so much to Africa was something special.
“Before we left, we met this security guard, and he said to me ‘do us proud’ and I realised, we’re not going there for our music. We’re going there to represent our country. This is for the people. Not just for us as a band.
“This is for our progress as a country and so much more than the music.”
Both musicians say that the performance was a chance for South Africa to shine.
Mi Casa, a house band with soul and jazz influences shot to fame locally with their second album Micasa Music, which took three SAMAs for Best Dance Album, Group of the Year, and Record of the Year in 2012.
But this was no club performance and the boys had to deliver like never before.
Mo-T says they went in to this performance as if they were taking their first steps again – they couldn’t ride on their hits because nobody knew the music.
“We couldn’t just play These Streets and expect everyone to go wild. We had to win everyone with perfection from the get go and it was tough. We had the nation on our shoulders.
“It felt like step one again.”
J-Something, a guitarist and singer originally from Portugal, says the music really spoke to people. “People enjoyed it, we got people dancing and we got people calling us back. We’re going back there and got people from Brazil and my native Portugal talking to us about going there.
“The genre is multi-racial… Every colour was dancing together.”
He says it was kind of funny, this predominantly white country celebrating a black president dancing to a band from a predominantly black country fronted by a white guy.
Mo-T, a very classically-ingrained trumpeter who draws inspiration from his father, says it was one of the most influential performances of Mi Casa’s career.
“Even though people had never heard the music before, it may be the one to change the course of our history, who knows?”
But the band is staying true to their local roots and has an album planned for this year.
“The album is going to be a balancing act of pushing the old stuff overseas while we promote the new stuff here… The music business is a balancing act.
“But home is always a priority. South Africa is our foundation. It’s mi casa,” says J-Something with a laugh.