Thandiswa seeks soul sisters
Singer Thandiswa Mazwai, sick of women instrumentalists being "almost invisible" on the local music scene, is starting an allfemale band.
Mazwai, who has bagged four SA Music Awards as a solo musician (and another three with the group Bongo Maffin), announced open-call auditions for three consecutive days in Johannesburg beginning on August 1.
Mazwai jetted out of the country on Tuesday night to join the legendary US singer Paul Simon for rehearsals for the latter's nine-city tour of Europe to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his Graceland album. Simon has also roped in Ray Phiri, Hugh Masekela, Tony Cedras, Barney Rachabane and Ladysmith Black Mambazo to join him.
The tour begins in Ireland on Thursday next week and ends in Bergen, Norway, on August 26.
Mazwai said before she left: "For the moment I'm looking for an all-female band to play with. This may not be the band I record with because I sometimes use a lot of different session musicians for a full album."
The move is similar to what US R&B star Beyoncé did immediately after releasing her second album, B'Day, in 2006. She held open-call auditions for an all-female 10-piece band to tour with on The Beyoncé Experience.
Most of Beyonce's band, called Suga Mama, is classically trained, but Mazwai insisted prospective members of hers need not have played in a band before.
"I saw this as a great way to empower women instrumentalists who are almost invisible in a male-dominated music industry," she said.
"As a woman who is able to tour and employ a full band, I thought this would be a platform for these musicians to grow and learn more about the industry. The size of the band will depend on what I find."
Mazwai, also now known as "King Tha", said that she was not looking for vocalists - just instrumentalists.
Hopefuls need to prepare three of her songs and one of their own for the auditions at Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg.
A follow-up to 2009's Ibokwe is nowhere near done, thanks to her non-stop gigs. Mazwai said she expected to write music for a third album on her return next month.
She teased: "There have been varied influences and life experiences that have brought a new perspective to my creative process. All I can say is the music won't be the same as before."
The Graceland album caused a stir locally and internationally after Simon recorded most of it in South Africa at a time when the cultural boycott of the apartheid regime was in force.
The award-winning album featured local musical styles including isicathamiya and mbaqanga, and drew attention to events in South Africa in the 1980s.