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Sipho Gumede Interview - Flying the Proudly SA Jazz flag

2006-03-29 10:59

MWEB: Cato Manor, where you were born, is sort of like Durban's District Six, isn't it? Were you part of the group who were...

GUMEDE: ...forcibly removed? Yes, I was, I was still young then. About eight years old.

MWEB: Your bio talks about you playing tunes with other kids in Cato. And coincidentally, a friend was telling me last night how neighbours were relocated to different places, so that the community was split up. Where are those kids now?
GUMEDE: Some people went to Kwamashu, some to Umlazi... we were sent all over.

MWEB: That was deliberate, the splitting up of the community?
GUMEDE: Yes, it was.

MWEB: How do you find overseas audiences compared to South African?
Just depends on which countries you perform. Some audiences are very quiet, and only give you applause after the songs. In some countries in Europe, sometimes in Europe they're wild, but South African audiences are always the most responsive. They're my favourite.

MWEB: Do you struggle with the fact that South African jazz sells so much better overseas than it does here? Is the often dismissive attitude to our own culture changing or going to change?
I wouldn't say that, I am quite happy with my sales, my album just went double gold.

MWEB: In South Africa? Oh, so that whole perception isn't always true.
No it's not.

MWEB: You've had a very collaborative career. Who're you working with at the moment?
I've just finished a new album, with Sakhile called Togetherness.

MWEB: Which artists performing at the Jazz Festival should we make sure we catch?
Me personally? To be quite honest, I really appreciate South African music theses days and the music that comes from other countries it sounds... exhausted, it all sounds the same, and often you'd rather listen to the CD.

MWEB: Ok, now suppose I didn't know anything about South African jazz, but I wanted to start a collection with a few really important albums, which ones should I make sure I got hold of? I mean, I walk into a CD shop, I have R600 to blow: I want to get a good variety of stuff, and the best stuff. What do I buy?
Well I'm told you should always market your own stuff, so I'd say, buy Sipho Gumede, they won't be disappointed! And Sheer Sound has managed to record a whole lot of other good music...

Languidly spoken, Gumede's hanging out on a warm Durban day (is there any other kind?) at the BAT Centre, the place all ex-Durbanite music fans speak of longingly. He's releasing a new album, Togetherness, in a couple of weeks. He's also appearing live at the North Sea Jazz festival in Cape Town in April.
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