‘Sweet Songs of Africa’ soured by royalty row

2009-08-21 15:32

A row over royalties has erupted between immigrant musicians and a Cape Town

producer, with the musicians claiming that a compilation CD featuring their

music has been released without their knowledge or permission.

Guitarist and singer Sylvestre Kabassidi, originally from the Democratic

Republic of Congo, performs classy jazz-influenced gigs, often in tandem with

Afrikaans singer Beverly Rinkwest.

But he says he is incensed that an album produced by Daniel Eppels called

Sweet Songs of Africa, which contains two tracks of his music, was released by

Eppels four weeks ago without his consent or knowledge.

He said he had recorded at Eppel’s studios before, but had no agreement

regarding his music being used for the album.

Kabassidi said he intends to sue for the royalties owed to him and will

donate the money to charity.

Another artist from the DRC, Jason Tamba, said he also knew nothing about the


Tamba said his song which appears on the album was recorded about two years

ago when he was “invited to the studio for a few hours”.

“He was talking about how we would share royalties but nothing was


He and Kabassidi have since demanded their tracks be removed from the album

and in-store CDs be recalled.

But Eppel denies any malicious intent.

He said he had verbal agreements with the musicians, but admitted he had made

a mistake, however.

“I didn’t tell him (Kabassidi) when it was released, I should have done that.

I slipped up there.”

He said he had been very busy at the time and simply hadn’t got around to it

before Kabassidi found out about the album.

But he said there was no malicious intent and wasn’t looking to make money

from the album.

When questioned about royalties on albums already sold, he said Kabassidi’s

royalties came to less than R300, but Kabassidi still owed him over R1000 for

doing the sound at one of his previous gigs.

Cape Town jazz singer and SAMA scholarship award winner Monique Hellenberg

stood up for Eppels, saying she’s known him for a number of years, has worked

with him on a number of occasions and would continue to work with him because “I

trust him”.

Hellenberg said ideally agreements should be in writing but verbal agreements

were “common” in the industry.

- West Cape News

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