Namibia: International Jazz Day Celebrations Kick Off Tomorrow

Namibians will join the rest of the world in celebrating International Jazz Day on 25 and 26 April.

International Jazz Day is commemorated on 30 April each year, a day declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 2011 to highlight jazz music and its diplomatic role of uniting people across the globe.

The idea came from jazz pianist and Unesco goodwill ambassador, Herbie Hancock, who said in a statement said he is pleased that Namibia is has made efforts to support the day. Worldwide nearly 200 countries participate.

"Through countless performances, education programmes, debates, art exhibitions and other initiatives offered by our creative partners, I am proud to acknowledge that International Jazz Day has impacted and uplifted people in virtually every corner of the world."

Local organiser of the event, renowned jazz aficionado Kagiso Moloi explained that celebrations would take place earlier this year because the international artists were not available on 30 April.

He said this year's event promises to be bigger, having secured a larger venue after having to turn people away last year.

"The venue was too small to accommodate all the people who turned up. We would really like to apologise and inform jazz lovers that we have looked into the matter and have a bigger venue now."

Moloi said he hopes more young people show up because in the past the crowd consisted of mostly older people.

"We would like to introduce jazz to the youth. It's a beautiful genre. Jazz is a universal language, even if the song is in a language that you don't understand, you can still appreciate the instruments," Moloi said.

The concerts will be headlined by multi-award winning South African Afro-soul singer and songwriter Berita, and Sereetsi and the Natives, a folk band from Botswana.

"In the past we only had local artists performing at the event. We decided to bring in international artists to share their talent and for Namibians to see them in person," Moloi said.

"Berita is a hard worker and can inspire others. She is a true African jewel," said Moloi. "She is proving to be one of the most important new voices of our generation. She is known for releasing music that resonates with people of all ages."

Sereetsi and the Natives has shared the stage with established artists like Oliver Mtukudzi, Vusi Mahlasela, Caiphus Semenya, Letta Mbulu, Jonas Gwangwa, Jonathan Butler and Musiq Soulchild.

Local Afro jazz sensation Erna Chimu will also perform at the event. She has won numerous music awards since the release of 'Imamakuguwe' in 2009 and 'Haiserute' in 2013.

Moloi said some of the local artists he approached to perform were reluctant because there would be no payment.

"People must understand that it is a free event. It is aimed to help raise awareness about jazz music. It is a shame that some local artists are only willing to perform when they are getting money. Sometimes it is important to perform for free because you are doing it to help grow the music industry and entertain people."

The concerts will take place at The Kitchen on Thursday, 25 April, at 19h00 and on Friday, 26 April, at Kalahari Coffee and Jazz Cafe, also at 19h00. Entrance is free.

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