……BY BILLY SUTER……
THE first South African Songwriters’ Festival (SASF), focused on discovering, showcasing and developing songwriting talent, is scheduled to be held at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo, on July 16 and 17.
The event will showcase popular Eshowe singer-songwriter Starke as well as 10 other artists, representing a diverse range of genres, languages and cultures. These artists come from Durban, Zululand, Johannesburg and Cape Town, explains Starke, who has organised the festival.
Durban songwriters on the festival bill are Lu Dlamini, Rowan Stuart and N’Den. Cape Town talents include Jenny Eaves, Jono Tait, John Shaban, Bill Knight and Stanley Sibande, while Lizzie Gaisford of Eshowe and Johannesburg’s Shotgun Tori are also scheduled to feature.
The weekend programme is structured to include public workshops and presentations during the day, followed by performances at night, with a final boutique concert to be held on Sunday, July 18, at Thornleys Guest House in Eshowe, Zululand.
“I decided to put this festival together after attending far too many South African festivals that featured far too many covers of music… and I really felt something needed to be done to focus on genuine South African songwriting,’” Starke explains.
“There are some truly world-class songwriters here and if they lived anywhere else in the world they would be able to practise their craft on a full-time basis, and would likely be celebrated by their communities. But here they seem relegated to playing second fiddle to the international artists that are shoved down everyone’s throats by SA radio and media.
“I also wanted to create a festival platform that engendered a quiet, listening crowd, rather than the wild, loud, outdoor-type set-up (which is totally great too, just not for the quieter music types).”
The festival is planned as an annual event, if all goes to plan.
“Distinct from other events that focus primarily on performance, SASF 2021 invites artists not only to present their best work, but also to teach, learn, share, network and engage with each other, industry representatives, academics, journalists and the public,” adds Starke.
The festival is presented in association Music Now, a brand with a deeply rooted commitment to locally produced South African content.
Tickets for the event are available at Computicket or by contacting the Rhumbelow Theatre manager, Roland Stansell, at firstname.lastname@example.org .