Thandiswa's soul SOS
Thandiswa Mazwai will now look to Cape Town and Durban for members of the all-female band she wants to form after an underwhelming number of hopefuls turned up for what was to be a one-city call.
Mazwai announced open-call auditions for Johannesburg last month, which began on Wednesday. Yesterday was set aside for those who received call-backs from the first day. Though she found promising talent, she was not content.
She said last month that there was a dearth of female instrumentalists and wanted to empower them by forming the band.
She said the size of the band would be determined by the talent pool she found.
She employed Ayanda Sikade and Nduduzo Makhathini, who have both toured and played with her, and trombonist and vocalist Siya Makuzeni, as her judging panel for the opening day.
The hopefuls had to show that they had mastered any three of the singer's songs and one of their own.
Mazwai first had open-call auditions six years ago, when she released her debut solo album, Zabalaza.
"What I was working on was to create a database of women players and have it online so it's available to Ringo [Madlingozi], to Lira and to anyone who has a big band that has constant work.
"We want to create work for female players because when I go to festivals all I see are male players."
The 36-year-old said there was a "standard" in the industry that presupposed that women could only be vocalists.
So passionate about the idea was Mazwai that, during a recent trip to the US to play at the Pan Jazz 2012 festival at Lincoln Centre, in New York, she agreed with a college to fund talented hopefuls for short courses.
Pretoria's Thandi Ntuli, 24, tried out on the piano yesterday: "[Mazwai] is my idol. I saw her live for the first time two years ago in Cape Town and said then that I wanted to work with her."
"The problem was that Nduduzo Makhathini was playing for her that day, and he's a brilliant pianist. So it looked like a huge mountain to climb, but here I am."
One person who stood out was 30-year-old guitarist Tessa Lily, of Joburg rock band Cortina Whiplash, who said "whiteness" and lack of rhythm nearly cost her dearly on the opening day, but Thandiswa was keen after she played Vana Vevhu, Heathen (a Bob Marley song that she performs in her live concert DVD Dance of the Forgotten Free, and African Sun, a Miriam Makeba cover that Mazwai also performs.
The part-time secretary added: "Today I had a shot of tequila and felt relaxed, but Thandiswa was a lot more chilled and I felt more comfortable."