Last night I performed a rap alongside Tielman Janse van Vuuren and the Stellenbosch University Jazz Big Band. It was a fundraising event called ‘Colour Me Jazz’ at the Endler concert hall in the Stellenbosch University Music Conservatory. I should add that this little foray into hip hop on the Endler stage (a platform reserved for classical music connoisseurs and uppity concert pianists) is a rare occurrence, if not the first of its kind. For this I am deeply grateful. I’m sure that the forebears of such an esteemed classical institution are rightly peeved off wherever they are today.

The Stellenbosch University Jazz Band makes an annual trip to Grahamstown for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival, where jazz students from around the country converge to gain first-hand experience from both national and international jazz educators and performing jazz artists. For this trip to happen, a substantial amount of funds need to be raised in order to cover all expenses incurred over the week long excursion. It was with this in mind, that an event called ‘Colour Me Jazz’ was instigated as a last minute fundraising initiative.

I’m a graduate of the music certificate programme – a bridging course in music offered by the music department, for those who’ve had little formal training in music prior to the advent of their tertiary studies. The programme is coordinated by Felicia Lesch, a lovely lady who makes it her mission to see the dreams of young musicians come to fruition. She is also the conductor of the big band and the administrative brain of the Grahamstown excursion.

Felicia had asked Thielman and I to perform a rap item as part of an eclectic jazz evening that featured the University’s jazz vocal ensemble Miles Beyond (under the direction of jazz vocalist and lecturer Lynette Petersen), and styles as diverse as gospel, swing, funk, and African. The band had chosen to underlay our knee-busting raps with Dizzy Gillespie’s standard ‘A Night in Tunisia’, and so I decided to write a rap called ‘A Rhyme in Tunisia’. Tielman’s rap was performed in the very popular Afrikaans rap medium and had something to do with sweat pouring.

This was my first time performing as a rap artist with the big band, and not in the band itself as a bassist. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m quite a sucker for a challenge.

On the whole, the event had a very healthy turnout and the audience loved what I can only assume was as an extreme case of value for money; as they’d only paid R20 to see almost two hours of well-rounded jazz. I also saw a few familiar faces and it was great to see everyone again.

We leave for Grahamstown on Tuesday night. I’ll be posting about my experiences there in due time.

Below is the rap I’d written:

This is a night in Tunisia

Big band with Felicia

I’m the beat defeater

In the concert hall seater

Built on the Rock and the apostle called Peter

Scriptural feature as the lyrical peters

Out of the mic into the top of your dome

Where it makes a new home

In your spiritual zone

I zone out as the word I said inspires the change

That rewires your brain

now you’re never the same

As you were before I said it

Never second guess it

The word I had to stress it

Impress it on the heart

It presses on the start button

Suddenly it clicks

Hip hop over jazz in an audible fix

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