Artists are struggling more than ever

2016-04-20 06:00

JENNY MOFOKENG, Phuthaditjhaba, Qwaqwa:

TO be an artist is not child’s play. It takes a lot of time working on a craft to be a perfect and accomplished stage performer.

Sonny Holworthy Motsamai stole the show with his eight-piece band from Sandton at the 17th installment of the international Cape Town Jazz Festival in the Mother City a few weeks ago.

His incomparable gift, his unique voice and style of singing is so different from any other.

His voice had the best tone to it I have ever heard from this man.

His range is incredible!

The Cape Argus reported that Motsamai was considered by many to be one of the finest music makers today.

He has also been invited to a state of the arts festival in Port Elizabeth next month, because he is the most eclectic performer, strongest artist, phenomenal poet, dynamic arts entrepreneur and personality in the entertainment business.

In my opinion, I will say that Sonny is one of the few independent singers who sounds good when performing live.

Pretoria News reports that Sonny has pulled out of the 46th annual New Orleans Jazz Festival in Louisiana, America, which is to be held in May.

Apparently Sonny did this because the Free State MEC for Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mathabo Leeto, had said Sonny’s talent did not deserve international recognition and her department would not sponsor his trip to America.

Most of the people do not understand why the MEC turned down his trip.

Unfortunately, the critical worth, the artistic vision, the cultural influence and the innovative qualities of many independent musicians are not given the same opportunity to perform in major gigs like Macufe.

Typically, talented artists are not always guaranteed success without connections either.

Some incredible artists do not have the recognition that they deserve in the competitive music industry, just because they are overlooked and undermined.

That is why the Free State is not successful when it comes to the arts industry.

There are plenty of good Free State artists who are not getting the big opportunity they deserve.

The Free State Department of Arts and Culture received R35 million.

Last year, my band performed well at Dipontso in the Charles Mopeli Stadium, Qwaqwa, but we did not receive our money.

I cannot be expected to work for free.

I have bills just like everybody.

Sadly, the Maluti-a-Phofung personnel send us from pillar to post.

The complaint was even a debate on one of the national radio stations.

I have a degree in jazz, world music and popular music from the University of Cape Town (UCT). But a big problem is that I cannot reap the good seeds of what I sow.

When a musician plays a live show, whether at a local pub or a stadium, they are paid before their performance.

Musicians negotiate many different types of revenue-sharing arrangements with the venue, ranging from a flat fee to a percentage of ticket sales.

But not here in Qwaqwa.

That is why music artists often face intermittent periods of unemployment or eventaully die a pauper’s death.

Artists are struggling to make ends meet more than ever before.

One of the reasons rural artists struggle to make a living now more than ever is that communication and exchange between rural and urban musicians are undeveloped.

Singing does not put food on the table. Singing does not pay the bills. Singing is no guarantee to a future.

Some talented musicians, performing artists, poets, authors, writers, actors and entertainers have no platform to show off their talents.

Turning Free State talent into economic power can help out artists to grow because the province is blessed with enormous talent that is latent.

The problem is lack of opportunity. Qwaqwa radio hardly plays the music of local artists. They only promote established and overseas artists.

  • Letter was shortened by the editor.

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