The Athlone Cultural Hub, a development arm of Catholic Welfare and Development (CWD), is on a mission to revive the once “melting pot of cultural activities” the area used to be known for, by hosting various events.
For its latest feat, three jazz artists will collaborate for the first time ever, to host an intimate musical evening, on Sunday August 7. Mervyn Africa, an internationally respected pianist and composer, has performed in backing bands around the world. Mr Africa, who returned to South Africa after 27 years of exile in the United Kingdom (UK), is teaming up with guitarist Errol Dyers, a pioneer of the Cape Town carnival “Ghoema” sound, and singer and song writer Trudy Rushin for this concert.
André Marais, the arts and culture manager of the Athlone Cultural Hub, said his organisation is well aware that it is not doing anything original, but instead, they are “trying to re-imagine the 1980s.”
“Athlone used to be a melting pot of cultural activities from the 1960s to the 1980s, and many cultural activists found their footing in this community. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, we just want to revive the cultural hub Athlone once was, but also offer spiritual renewal. This community used to have three jazz clubs, and even under apartheid, we made things happen. People from all walks of life gathered in Athlone because of its cultural activities. I’m glad to be working on this – the first of a series of engagements in music,” Mr Marais said.
Among the other activities hosted by the Athlone Cultural Hub, include hip hop, yoga, writing workshops, music lessons, science and after school programmes, environmental projects, community theatre and a young filmmakers programme.
Mr Africa wrote some tunes with the late Russel Herman while exiled to the UK, and has performed for the late Nelson Mandela as a soloist. Before going into exile, he was the founder member of “OsWietie” and Spirits Rejoice. During the 1990s, Mr Africa was commissioned by the Greater London Arts Council to compose and perform a jazz concerto for piano and full orchestra. The original score is in the British Music Archives and the District Six Museum. He has also worked for the BBC in his capacity as composer of music for various television documentaries. In addition, he has also worked for the British Council producing a series of oncerts and workshops throughout Eastern Europe.
Ms Rushin is a singer-songwriter who writes about everyday life. She has worked mainly in acoustic duos with guitarists, particularly Keith Tabisher and Wayne Bosch. While performing often as a soloist, she enjoys working with different musicians, as every collaboration opens new possibilities. She has a weekly solo gig at Sabria’s Restaurant in Wynberg, and produces an annual (December) concert with Wayne Bosch, where young emerging artists are also given a platform. She believes that meaningful societal change can be achieved by ordinary people working together for the common good.
Mr Dyers’ style is best described as Cape Jazz. His songs stem from the earliest strumming of the Cape people that has been passed down through generations. He had the privilege to perform alongside one of the people who influenced his music, Abdullah Ebrahim, whom he played with in 1990 when touring the UK, along with Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee, with a live broadcast on BBC.
An intimate musical evening takes place on Sunday August 7 at 6.30pm at the CWD Athlone Cultural Hub, in Lawrence Road. Tickets, are R75 each, and booking is advised. Contact Classic CT at 076 415 7244 or CWD Cultural Hub at 083 886 7164 for tickets. Refreshments will be on sale.