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Cape Town Prepares for International Jazz Festival

Music fans look forward to the upcoming 11th Annual Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Singaporian singer Hanjin will appear at this year's Cape Town festivities.
Singaporian singer Hanjin will appear at this year's Cape Town festivities.

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The Cape Town International Jazz Festival enters its 12th year this year and takes place on Friday 25 and Saturday 26 March at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  Forty bands will perform on five stages to an expected full-capacity crowd of 33, 500.

In 2010, The Cape Town International Jazz Festival contributed around US $68 million to the economy of Cape Town .  South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma praised the event in this year’s State of the Nation address for bringing 2,300 temporary jobs to the city.

Xhosa singer Simphiwe Dana
Xhosa singer Simphiwe Dana

“It’s an incredible achievement for one city to have one event generate so much money! So we’re very proud. The national GDP is nearly 700 million rand [US $100 million]. This spending is across the board – they [visitors] move from Cape Town up to Johannesburg and up the coast, so this money is spent along the coast as well,” says Billy Domingo the Production Director for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

The GDP was boosted by flights, hotels, restaurants and night clubs which were packed by visitors. This year is expected to be no different as well-known and new musicians have been confirmed on the 2011 line-up.

As in previous years, the 40 musicians will be split equally between African and those from abroad.  Among the artists from abroad are Singapore’s Hanjin,  and several from the US, including Earth, Wind and Fire, Dave Koz, BeBe Winans, Jazzanova,  and this year’s Grammy-award Best New Artist,  Esperanza Spalding.

The African performers billed to perform include:  soul singer Simphiwe Dana,  musicians Hugh Masekela and Youssou N’dour and bands The Flames and Gang of Instrumentals.

“I’m glad with the line-up. Earth Wind and Fire is something that acknowledges who Rashid [Other organizer] and I are. But I’m also glad that [Xhosa singer] Simphiwe Dana gets a chance to come back and perform the way that she wants to perform. And that the Gang of Instrumentals plays on the stage out here. And, our artists at night collaborate and jam, and that’s when you truly see artists in motion in the sense that they learn from each other play from the same drum. That is what it’s about, ” explains Domingo.

Besides the performances, other scheduled events around the Cape Town International Jazz Festival include music and journalism workshops as well as a photographic exhibition that showcases the growth of jazz around the world.

And, on the Wednesday, March 23rd, two days before the festival, there will also be a free community concert in Cape Town that will include international and local performers.

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