Kabomo: a Joy of Jazz debut to remember

Kgopi-MabotjaBy Kgopi Mabotja
27 August 2013

Jazz is therapeutic in its nature. Many folks from all walks of life assembled in Newtown, Johannesburg, last weekend for what has become a ritual and sacred place for lovers of this genre of music – the Standard Bank of Joy Jazz festival.

For us who follow jazz quite religiously, it was like our own piece of heaven. We mingled in the white marquees set up at Mary Fitzgerald Square. As much as it was about the music, the spirit of fashion, synonymous with the jazz affair, was also in the air. The event took place over three days, from Thursday 22 to Saturday 24 August.

I attended the closing ceremony. The ladies and gents all looked fly, in well-pressed suits and shiny shoes, while old-timers, such as event organiser Peter Tladi, will always rock their trademark “toupees”.

The red carpet made us feel like royalty as we marched up it. Then we sipped champagne and held down chilled conversation to kill time while waiting for the next performance.

As we were chatting, a woman shouted to alert us that Kabomo was on stage. I had heard about this chap before, but he was not my list of must-see performances of the night.

But this lady insisted we had to see Kabomo Vilakazi – I realised that had not even known his surname. My friend echoed the call to see this Kabomo. I was clearly out numbered, so off we went to Mbira Stage. On entering, we encountered a man with such a mature and commanding voice – the right voice for singing slow jams, love songs if you like.

Kabomo-jazzLocal muso Kabomo Vilakazi thrilled the audience with his debut performance at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival. Photo: Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival

He charmed the heart out of the ladies. His music is gentle, melodious and he can move on stage. Kabomo has a strong stage presence and he knew just how to connect and interact with the crowd. I was one of the few who could not sing along to his songs for many in the marquee sang along, word for word, to every track.

Ngiyakufuna drove everyone absolutely crazy, people leaving their chairs to jam to this track.

When I learned that it was his debut performance at the Joy of Jazz, I was completely blown away. He was an opening act for Dennis Edwards and The Temptations Review, giving him a great opportunity to showcase his talent.

“Goeie genade,” I thought to myself. “This chap was born for this.”

Kabomo was a revelation and he delivered a humdinger and razzmatazz of a performance, one that will be much talked about long after that day; he was the highlight of the event without a doubt.