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House of Nsako has a cool vibe

By Musa Ndwandwe | Feb 11, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE Johannesburg suburb of Brixton, for a long time famous as home of the notorious murder and robbery police unit, is fast becoming a sanctuary for Gauteng's displaced cultural enthusiasts.

Situated on Brixton's main street, House of Nsako is more than a live music venue and meeting place for all manner of artistes and cultural activists.

With a programme line-up that is as unpredictable as it is refreshing, venue director Sfiso Ntuli could be well on the way to becoming a latter-day Messiah for multitudes of Johannesburg's cultural destitutes.

February at the House of Nsako (Nuff Said Kollective) sees the launch of a tribute series for the dead female vocalists, both here and abroad. Kicking off the series last Thursday was a ode to Billie Holiday.

Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan) grew up in jazz talent-rich Baltimore, US, in the 1920s.

She was a true artiste of her day who rose as a social phenomenon in the 1950s.

Her soulful, unique singing voice, and ability to boldly turn any material that she came across into her own music, made her a superstar of her time.

Today Holiday is remembered for her masterpieces, creativity and vivacity, and many of her songs are as well known as they were decades ago.

He poignant voice is considered to be one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.

Ironically, it was with the help of new, relatively unknown South African voices that the life and times of Holiday were immortalised at the House of Nsako.

Taking turns, and with "divas" written all over them, Khethi Ntshangase, Pebbles Gqunta and Nothende Madumo had no difficulty in portraying Holiday's unique diction, inimitable phrasing and acute dramatic intensity.

The trio made light work of such classics as The Man I Love and Porgy.

Ably assisted by a well-rehearsed band of equally gifted musicians, the ladies ensured that the memory of Holiday's emotive voice, innovative techniques and touching songs will forever be enjoyed.

Judging by their performance the band, made up of Arthur Maphutsi on guitar, keyboardist Mphumzeni Khonjelwayo, bassist Musa Mboweni and Bongani Mthimkhulu on drums, are sure to feature prominently in the country in future.

If you missed the show, be there tonight as the ladies pay a fitting tribute to Brenda Fassie.

The last show will be a tribute to Nina Simone on February 18.


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