Opening the tap on talent

2012-05-08 00:00

THE idea of helping to transform untapped talent into successful commercial artists in Pietermaritzburg sounded like music to the ears of city resident Claude Charles.

After eight years of planning, he finally gave in to his passion for music, giving up a good job at fast-moving consumer goods giant Unilever to establish Just Music Recording Studio in Northway Mall, Pietermaritzburg.

Like all new commercial ventures, the studio came with risk, especially as the venture was self-funded, but the artists who started arriving just by word of mouth showed him he was meeting a need in the market.

Charles has now created a record label, Just Music Records.

He told The Witness that the Midlands has the artists and audiences to sustain a thriving music industry, despite competition from the global and well-developed national music industries and other challenges.

He has invested in new musical instruments, computer equipment, software and soundproofing to serve artists, groups and choirs in the capital and the entire Midlands region.

Charles is assisted by sound engineer Maclin Smith, who is also a musician and producer.

Artists can use the studio to produce a master disk to cut copy that they market and distribute themselves or work with Just Music Records to help their promotions.

Charles’s ultimate dream is to establish a larger business in Pietermaritzburg with multiple studios.

“For this dream to be realised, Just Music must succeed and I must attract other investors. In SA and in Pietermaritzburg in particular, we are lacking investment in the music industry.”

He said there were many aspiring and active musicians in the city who were looking for a facility where they could transform their creative energy into commercially successful music.

“Pietermaritzburg has so much of untapped talent.

He said he chose Northway Mall because of its central location and convenience for local residents.

Charles and Smith have already established a social upliftment element to the business. They offer free learnerships to high school pupils, which provides a studio, studio engineering, pre-production, production, post-production and a recording session.

Charles was born in the CBD and grew up in a family that held music close to its heart. “I am self-taught on the piano and the guitar, which I learnt in my childhood. I had music lessons in school and sang in the choir. I have been involved in social music throughout. I played in bands from the age of 17, at functions and clubs. In 1993, I began playing gospel music as I became more involved in the church.”

He literally travelled a long road to realise his dream. “After school, I worked in the road industry for about 10 years, dealing with specifications for road building and maintenance. I then moved to Unilever and worked there for 24 years.”


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