Cape Town talents perform at Carnegie Hall
Written by Yazeed Kamaldien
Cape Town entertainers and brothers Loukmaan and Emo Adams are among local performers to likely have New Yorkers tapping their feet in that city’s Carnegie Hall this weekend.
Loukmaan Adams, born in Mitchell’s Plain, considers this a “personal achievement” as the famous music venue in New York is the “Harvard (University) of music venues”.
Adams has previously performed in the musical Kat and the Kings in New York’s sought-after Broadway and London’s West End theatre districts. But the Big Apple’s Carnegie was the “most prestigious hall,” he said.
“You don’t book that venue. You get invited to perform there,” he added.
The Adams brothers, known to locals for their stage and TV performances, are part of Saturday night’s line-up that will showcase music with a Cape flavour. This performance is part of a Carnegie festival, Ubuntu: Music and Arts of South Africa, that started earlier this month and runs until November 5. It celebrates South Africa’s 20 years of democracy this year.
Carnegie’s website says Saturday night’s performance will feature “musical traditions found in the Cape”.
The website states the Western Cape is “quite distinct from the rest of South Africa in terms of its cultural history, politics, and ethnic makeup”.
“The region has a relatively small black population and is the only region where Afrikaans – South Africa’s third most widely spoken tongue – is the primary language, spoken by both a white population and also a large coloured (or mixed race) community,” it reads.
“Similarly, the region’s varied musical genres are distinct from those found in the rest of the country… one of the most significant elements that sets the music of the Cape apart is its rich and hybrid history.”
Adams says they want to show New Yorkers “how diverse Cape Town is”. A Cape Malay choir will also perform at the show.
“We’ll sing in Afrikaans, English and mengels (a mixture of tongues). It will be all the familiar sounds of our city that comes from our forefathers. We will show the influences from the different heritages in our community,” he said.
“We are performing for 45 minutes and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a personal achievement. Not a lot of people can say they performed on Broadway, West End and now also Carnegie Hall.”
Upon return, Adams will continue his role in a music show, Vocal Mania, at holiday spot Sun City in Rustenburg, North West province. He then returns to his home city for a run of this show at the Garden Court Hotel in Walmer Estate.
Other well-known musicians headlining concerts during the Ubuntu festival include jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim, as well as singing group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and their collaborator Paul Simon.
Also on the programme is singer Vusi Mahlasela, who performed at Carnegie a “couple of years back”. He also performed at the Ubuntu festival on October 10, alongside South African musicians Dave Matthews and Hugh Masakela.
Mahlasela will close the festival with Grammy-winning singer Angélique Kidjo from Benin. Kidjo will pay tribute to the deceased South African singer Miriam Makeba whose career took her across Africa and elsewhere.
Mahlasela said Ubuntu was a platform where “we could tell people about South Africa”.
“We performed some of our songs that talked about what we experienced during apartheid. It’s a journey, showing people where we have come from and where are now,” he said.
“We are celebrating our democracy even outside South Africa. Democracy is special, especially for Africans. And we invite everybody when there is something special to celebrate or talk about together.”
He added: “We emphasised the concept of ubuntu which says ‘you are because I am’. Ubuntu is like the Ten Commandments.
“It’s about love, compassion, forgiveness, helpfulness, unity and reconciliation. It’s something we have to educate people about so they can live it to the fullest.”
Carnegie says the Ubuntu festival “celebrates the many threads that make up South Africa’s vibrant musical culture”.
It “extends throughout New York with events at leading cultural institutions, crossing arts disciplines to include music, film, art exhibitions, and more”.
Musical theatre show A Distant Drum will be performed as part of the festival next Tuesday. This stage portrait of writer Nat Nakasa, who went into exile in New York during the 1960s, tells the tale of the Drum magazine voice who traveled from the African veld to Manhattan’s skyline where he committed suicide.