Tonight, Cultural Connection Africa (CCA) hosts the 4th edition of the SOUNDS FROM AFRICA concert series featuring two phenomenal female artists Lize Ehlers (NAMIBIA) & Yugen Blakrok (SOUTH AFRICA). The event is hosted by Colours of Ostrava of CZECH REPUBLIC.
By earGROUND, Zimbabwe
Created as a direct response to COVID-19 in order to help foster communication and cultural awareness in a time of isolation. Delivering music from across the African continent to a global audience, the online concerts presented by Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) in partnership with Colours of Ostrava, WOMAD UK and Global Arts Live.
“The regular live stream concert series with a pan-continental scope to emerge from the African continent offers a diverse and culturally rich array of musical stylings and genres from across 17 African countries to new audiences around the world”, notes CCA member Ignacio Priego Jimeno.
So far Mokoomba from Zimbabwe, Nakhane from South Africa and Namibia’s Elemotho have performed delivering enthralling shows.
Interspersed with developing artists from across 17 countries in this new curated programming effort from Cultural Connections Africa (CCA) and their partner organizations. The series is produced by CCA network member Brad Holmes (of Bassline Festival, SA) and Mushroom Productions (SA) in cooperation with other partners.
Plot Mhako from Zimbabwe who is also a CCA network member will be the MC for the event.
The fourth edition features a powerful double bill of the amazingly talented Yugen Blakrok, Lize Ehlers who are both cut from a deep poetic background.
Born and raised in Mariental, Namibia, Lize Ehlers is a national creative pioneer as the first and current Namibian Annual Music Awards Artist of the Year. Lize works as a mentor for upcoming singers and rappers in her role as Founder & Director of RMB Song Night, a free platform that nurtures the Namibian sound.
With six albums, various singles and compositions on many Namibian and international films, Lize is 360-degree creative, carrying the versatility of acting (Best Actress in Theatre in Namibia 2007 & 2017) with poetry, puppeteering, writing and musical direction in her body of work.
Regularly described by critics as the “South African hip-hop revelation of the moment“, female rapper Yugen Blakrok´s deep occult flow was revealed to the general public after her appearance on the soundtrack of the film Black Panther in 2018, alongside Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples. After playing all over Europe for 5 years, Yugen released her second album in 2019, Anima Mysterium.
Her trio with producer Kanif The Jhatmaster and trumpeter Ralph Louis Smit runs on pure energy.
“The impact of the pandemic has laid bare the already precarious economic conditions in which most artists live. With the closure of entertainment venues and postponement of shows to suppress the spread of COVID-19, musicians will have to use online platforms to sustain themselves. […] Hosting online shows, live concerts and promoting their content might just be the way out for musicians in a quest to generate income through wellwishers and donations.” Gordon Jay,CCA member and founder of Mindscape Events (Namibia) said.
The series is a joint venture of the network and like-minded cultural arts partner organizations from around the world that share the mission of connecting people through culture and music. Katherine McVicker, co-founder of the network and Director of premier boutique booking agency Music Works International (MWI) explains that the series “is part of a continued effort to celebrate diversity, amplify historically marginalized voices, and promote professional development, mentorship, education and the diaspora of African music around the globe”.
Cultural Connections Africa, founded by Walter Wanyanya (Director of Jacaranda Festival, Zimbabwe) and Katherine McVicker in April 2019, is a diverse continent-wide association of highly established music promoters, festival directors, artist managers, producers, and other arts administrators, curated the roster for the series.
Though born as a result of the pandemic, the series will be ongoing and will continue as a form of cultural exchange. Virtual streaming performances not only benefit the audience, it develops careers by showcasing artists to new markets without burdensome travel costs, visas, or all the expenses that makes it impossible for developing artists to gain recognition beyond their home country borders.
Estelle Hein, CCA network member and Logistics and Events Planning Officer at City of Windhoek (Namibia), says that the series “is an incredible opportunity for African artists to promote their music on a global platform […] it assists artists in re-imagining traditional ways of performing and opens new opportunities in the entertainment industry”.
There is no fee to watch the streams. Donations are appreciated. The performances will be hosted on the WOMAD UK and Colours of Ostrava Facebook pages and the SkyRoomLive website. Proceeds will benefit the featured artists as well as support efforts to promote economic and social development in Africa through cultural entrepreneurship. Donations directly support the featured artists that have been financially impacted by the current crisis. A portion of the proceeds benefit CCA’s enterprises in cultural development on the African continent.
In a continued effort to support our community of musicians, participating artists have agreed to share a portion of their earned revenue with Cultural Connections Africa which will go towards the network’s initiatives in cultural development and advocacy in the African continent. Additional donations made from the initiative’s global audience will also be allocated toward production costs. Funds will be collected and distributed by production partner Conservation Music.