Woman who commands entertainment industry

Mantwa produces premier event Standard Bank Joy of Jazz

Mantwa Chinoamadi-Mutshinya is the producer of the popular Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.
Mantwa Chinoamadi-Mutshinya is the producer of the popular Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Historically festival music producers have been male but now women like Mantwa Chinoamadi-Mutshinya are pioneering a new frontier, paving the way for the next generation.  

Chinoamadi-Mutshinya is the producer of Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, one of the biggest annual events in the South African entertainment calendar. In SA, she is the only black woman who leads various teams who contribute to put the show together. 

Her job as a producer is to design the festival, including its theme, and picking artists to be featured. The 56-yearold has been doing the job for more than 10 years and she thanks event founder Peter Tladi for everything she achieved. The latest edition of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz is set to take place on September 29 and 30 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Joburg.

The female music producer, who started out as a receptionist and travelling with artists at T-Musicman, a company owned by her brother in-law, Tladi, has grown to understand how the industry works and today she commands respect. 

Speaking to Sowetan, Chinoamadi-Mutshinya explained that putting the festival together starts nine months before it takes place. “After the event happens in September, in October we do reports and in November, we start the work. As a producer my job is to design the whole programme.

“When you understand the music, it is easy. We start by putting a list together of possible artists and we look at the new trends and who are the artists who are dominating the performance space. 

“Since after Covid-19 our line-up does get influenced by people who are getting regular bookings and those who have a huge following because it helps in advertising the show. We check their availability and start booking them.

“The artists then sign contracts and we start to understand what kind of concepts they are going to present on stage. If they are going to need a certain type of instrument, we need to know early so that we outsource them.” 

As much as music production and festival is a man’s world, Chinoamadi-Mutshinya came with her own strategy. When she started many people did not take her seriously and as a result they referred to her as “a woman who works with Peter Tladi”. 

“When I started in this industry, I knew it was male-dominated. But I did not come with a mentality that I am a woman otherwise these people could have easily walked all over me. With that mentality I wanted to be respected just like any producer. Some of them will bypass me and go to Bra Peter and he will send them back to me.”  

The down part about her job is that Chinoamadi-Mutshinya hardly enjoys the festival, she works hard to put it together. During the festival her job is to make sure that everything works accordingly and people are having fun. She said she only watches the footage taken for the archives after the show has ended. 

Chinoamadi-Mutshinya was introduced to artist management in the year she had taken a gap year doing a short course in town. Her plan was to go to Wits University medical school. She said she was introduced by Queen Radebe who used to work for T-Musicman and from then she just fell in love with the industry. While working for T-Musicman she read a lot of books and empowered herself by doing various courses.

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