Irabi a music heritage worth celebrating


Jazz veteran musician, Jerry Kunene. Photo supplied

from FUTHI MBHELE in Durban
KwaZulu Natal Bureau
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – CONTEMPORARY music genres, including Amapiano, have taken over South Africa’s music scene but there is no doubt as to the marabi (Irabi) music’s influence on these new genres.

The IRABI-Umkhumbane Jazz Heritage Celebration is a major highlight in the revival of marabi.

Held on December 3, it featured Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble, Mthobisi Mthalane and Bongani Nkwanyana. All are Mzansi Musical Instrumental Awards (MMIA) winners.

Jerry Kunene, leader of the Umkhumbane Jazz Ensemble, is a musical veteran that travelled and performed in many places during the sound development of township jazz.

“I see it imperative to share my story to the KZN Jazz appreciators, youth, upcoming musicians and those that are still utilizing the sound but not realizing the originality of South African music as our significant heritage and culture that brings about social cohesion, distressing, entertainment and love,” he said.

Kunene said the Amapiano that has taken the world by storm had some roots in Irabi.

“Irabi is our heritage sound as South Africans that brought about the birth to various music genres, including thee Amapiano,” Kunene said.

Kunene defines IRABI-Umkhumbane Jazz Heritage Project as a musical education and performance programme that commemorates and celebrates the heritage of the genre.

The project will unfold various music styles that brought about the birth of many traditional, modern and popular sounds that shape the music of nowadays.

Such include Afro Jazz, Afro Pop, Afro Gospel, Amapiano, Kwaito, Maskandi, Umbhaqanga and Umngqashiyo.

KZN artists, including Sheila Da Blue Note, Nhlanhla Moletsane, Royalson, Sifiso Cele, MilkyWay and Impolompolo Band graced the heritage celebration.

The South African National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture through National Arts Council, supports the project.

It is debatable whether the Irabi originated from Umkhumbane, Sophia Town, District 6 or Marabastad but it is proudly South African genre.

– CAJ News

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