South Africa’s inimitable jazz vocalist and composer Sathima Benjamin returned to Cape Town in 2011 following 34 years in New York. Benjamin and former husband Abdullah Ibrahim moved to the United States with their two children in the wake of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. Their relocation effectively became exile as the apartheid government revoked their citizenship for participating in cultural work for the liberation movement. This month, Cape Town celebrates Sathima Benjamin’s “homecoming” with series of events that include a live performance, a film screening and lots of great music.
Saturday 13 July 2013 :: African Songbird Relaunched
Recorded in the year preceding her departure from South Africa in 1977, African Songbird was Sathima Benjamin’s debut release and a canvas for her own compositions. Unavailable for over three and a half decades, June 2013 saw the release of Matsuli Music’s reissue of the landmark Afro-jazz long-player on vinyl, CD digipak and digital-download formats. To mark the occasion of the album’s relaunch, Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio will perform at Tagore’s Jazz Bar on the evening of Saturday 13 July. The performance will be streamed online via Pan African Space Station Radio.
Sunday 14 July 2013 :: Sathima’s Windsong Film Screening
This 2010 film-portrait of jazz vocalist Sathima Benjamin traces her musical journey from Cape Town to New York City via an astonishing morning in a Parisian recording studio with Duke Ellington in 1963. A reflection on displacement, exile, longing and belonging, Sathima’s Windsong premiered at Cape Town’s Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in 2010 (Runner-Up Audience Award). This one-off 6.15pm screening at the Labia-on-Orange on Sunday 14 July sees filmmaker Daniel Yon and Sathima Benjamin in attendance for Q&A.
Tuesday 16 July 2013 :: Future Nostalgia Spins Afro-Jazz Classics
Cape Town’s vinyl enthusiast collective Future Nostalgia dedicates a night to classic South African jazz from African Songbird to Underground in Africa on Tuesday 16 July. Recordings from the As-shams label are sure to abound as Matsuli Music’s Matt Temple takes a guest slot on the decks. Future Nostalgia gatherings are held every Tuesday at the Mahogany Room from 8pm.
Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio
O’Driscolls, Cape Town (May 2013) | Photos: Calum MacNaughton