Home-grown talent

2011-11-18 00:00

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“THIS is now the latest baby I have to look after,” says Lucas Bok, holding up an Emmy Award from Hollywood.

His journey has been quite extraordinary: from Eastwood to Hollywood. And back. Twice.

In 2008, he won two Grammy Awards for his work as musical director of the Soweto Gospel Choir. And on Wednesday this week, Bok returned home to Eastwood, Pietermaritzburg, with an Emmy Award.

The award is a Sports Emmy for the Outstanding Music Composition­­/­Direction/Lyrics category, and was presented on May 2 in New York. “I didn’t attend the awards. We didn’t think we were going to win,” he laughs. He was in a category with Rihanna and Jay-Z.

His work this time round involved a collaborative musical arrangement with rock supergroup U2 for the United States TV sports channel ESPN, which garnered a nomination for its promotion of the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

“I had to find a way of arranging songs to Where The Streets Have No Name and Get On Your Boots,” he says. “The song was already done, but they wanted an African feel, so I had to arrange the voices in the song and translate the words into Zulu, Sothu or whatever language I thought would work. We also kept a lot of it in English so people could sing along.”

Bok recorded and arranged the music in Pietermaritzburg, with the help of friend and fellow musican, producer and engineer Marlon Hemmero. Bok then corresponded digitally via e-mail with the producers of ESPN to rework the songs.

He is well known in his community, and has a track recorded of teaching and assisting school pupils and churches with all things music-related. Bok and his wife Michelle are expecting their first child next year. Currently, Bok is based back in Pietermaritzburg, and says local musicians have an obligation to create their own identity.

“It doesn’t matter what genre you play,” he says. “Try to create something that you do best. Experimenting is important. Don’t become one-track minded and say ‘that’s how so-and-so did it and that’s how it’s gotta be done’... think out the box, be radical and work at your craft.”

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