Songbirds… and all that jazz

Natalie Rungan performs two concerts in Pietermaritzburg on March 24.


TWO popular female jazz singers, Spha Mdlalose  and Natalie Rungan, are to perform locally – Spha in Durban this Friday (March 17) and Natalie next Friday (March 24) in Pietermaritzburg.

Jazz and soul singer Spha is a 28-year-old from Durban who is starting a three-city tour at The Chairman, 146 Mahatma Gandhi Road – a gig presented in association with Concerts SA. She will perform there from 10.30pm on March 17, when admission will be R150. More details at 079 753 6313.

Spha is also scheduled to perform from 5pm on March 19 at Durban’s Jazz Rainbow, 93 Smiso Nkwanyana Road. Admission is R80 (with a drink included). More info at 031 303 8398.

“The tour will see Spha performing in three cities that have inspired her musical journey: Durban, where she was born; Cape Town, where she lived for over 20 years; and Johannesburg, which she now calls home,” says a spokesman.

“The tour’s timing signifies a full-circle moment in the artist’s career as she gears up to release her debut album later this year.”

Said to be one of the most talented voices of her generation, Spha moves from rough-hewn, shebeen-styled jazz, through soulful gospel grooves, to Sarah Vaughan-like sophistication and Ella Fitzgerald-edged be-boppers, adds the spokesman.

Spha Mdlalose starts a three-city tour at Durban’s The Chairman on March 17.

“Despite her tender age, Spha has carved a successful musical career, having worked with the likes of Sibongile Khumalo, Abigail Kubeka and international pop star Josh Groban.

“Admittedly a late bloomer in the songwriting department, she looks forward to sharing her compositions, which are influenced by her jazz studies, her love of African music and the gospel music her mother introduced her to when she was just a little girl.

“Spha will play with a different quintet in each city, something which promises to give the music fresh interpretation each time, ultimately transporting audiences to places anew and possibly inspiring more music.

Spha will be backed on stage by Thandi Ntuli and Gabriel Montgomery alternating on piano/ keyboards, Thembinkosi Mavimbela on double-bass, Sisonke Xonti on saxophone and Sphelelo Mazibuko on drums.

Asked about the tour, Spha comments: “Being on the verge of releasing my solo debut album, I want to expose my music and artistic offering to as wide and diverse audiences as possible.

The Headroom, supported by Concerts SA, will collaborate with Pietermaritzburg’s Winston Churchill Theatre to bring to the capital jazz and R&B talent, Natalie Rungan, at 1.30pm and 7.30pm on March 24.

The theatre is at 2 Leinster aRoad, Pietermaritzburg, and tickets (R50) will be available at the door.

Natalie will be supported by Pietermaritzburg-based Ma’frika, a group that has been delighting audiences since 2002. Their sound is influenced by kwela, African folk, jazz and soul.

Concerts SA receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Samro, the Samro Foundation and Concerts Norway.

This project aims to build a vibrant and viable live music circuit in southern Africa.  It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools.

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