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ILAM Jazz Heritage Research Project

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Left: Ms Thobeka Veronica September Ndlebe, Ms Thandekile Qhawekazi Giyose
Left: Ms Thobeka Veronica September Ndlebe, Ms Thandekile Qhawekazi Giyose

ILAM is privileged to announce the launch of a jazz heritage research project with the title, “Research on the neo-traditional jazz heritage of the Eastern Cape from a developmental perspective.” This project is funded by the National Arts Council and includes a Ph D bursary and a Masters degree bursary. Ms Thobeka Veronica September Ndlebe is the recipient of the Ph D bursary and Ms Thandekile Qhawekazi Giyose received the Masters degree bursary.

ILAM PhD Student 2020                           Qawekazi Masters student

Ms Thobeka Veronica September Ndlebe.                  Ms Thandekile Qhawekazi Giyose

This project is a combination of research, development of performers’ awareness of their rights and musical heritage, and in harnessing the musical resources of the rural Eastern Cape for social cohesion and economic development. Since 2008 the International Library of African Music has initiated and produced a reasonable number of outputs on the jazz heritage of Port Elizabeth. This research in Port Elizabeth has resulted in performances, the production of a video, workshops for younger musicians, an income for musicians, and at least two Masters degree theses, one at Rhodes University and the other at Nelson Mandela University. The research we propose is going to produce many more tangible outputs, which will be expanded to include interviews, concerts, theses, attempts at sustainability, and workshops conducted by veteran musicians and cultural activists in Queenstown, King Williamstown and East London. By expanding the parameters of the research area it is then highly possible to provide a comprehensive purview of the history and legacy of the jazz heritage of this province, while also giving local musicians the means to exposure and economic independence.

This unique musical heritage research project will be managed by the International Library of African Music (ILAM), who will be archiving and documenting the results of our research for conservation, developmental and education purposes. The results of our research will be added to the Arts and Culture curriculum of the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape, and form part of the curriculum at tertiary institutions in South Africa. Education will transpire through publications, workshops as well as concerts with veterans at the end of each year of the project cycle to which performance students from the various music departments at the tertiary institutions in the Eastern Cape as well as novice musicians from the various communities, will be invited to participate. 

A great deal of the music was recorded on vinyl records which are fast deteriorating, while much of this music is also in the memory of veteran activists and musicians who are fast disappearing from the scene as a result of age, ill-health or death. This project will seek out these musicians. Their narratives and music will be recorded and treated as essential to the historical documentation of the music history of the Eastern Cape, which is by and large populated by rural communities. Musicians and activists with memories of the 1940s through 1960s are presently in their late 60s to 80s. There is therefore, given their advancing age, an urgent need for this project to commence as soon as possible.


Source:  International Library of African Music (ILAM)

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