South African music is polarised by race and genre, but nobody wants to actually say the words out loud, admitted Trenton Birch, founder of Black Mango Music and conference director of Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference.
“It’s a real shame. Can you imagine the power our industry would have if we all came together and shared our knowledge and experiences?” Birch asked.
This is what the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference will be debating when it kicks off in Cape Town, South Africa, on 1-2 April 2013.
Over 80 panellists, workshop hosts and speakers from Africa, Europe and the US are lined-up for the ambitious conference – an event described by the organisers as ‘invaluable’ to well-established and upcoming musos and industry professionals.
The problem of polarisation’ is still deeply entrenched in our society, Black Mango Music director Thabo Mobo accused.
“So-called ‘black’ radio stations will often only play ‘black music’ with so-called ‘white’ stations play only ‘white’ music.
“We’re not saying that people have to listen to music they hate or don’t identify with, but it’s about time people got out of their comfort zones and started to open their minds to all genres of South African music.
“Music has the power to unite us as one nation so it’s sad when we see it causing divisions.”
Mobo said the conference will attempt to start dealing with the situation and get everyone from different backgrounds and genres all talking under one roof.
“We can’t expect the public to change how they listen to music if we as an industry are still divided,” he said.
“Apartheid has a lot to answer for not the least of which is the polarisation of the music industry,” Birch charged.
“The Afrikaaners listened to their music and radio stations, as did the English, The Xhosa and the Zulu. We need to all make a concerted effort to change this and embrace and be proud of all the artists we have in this country”.
Furthermore, Trenton pointed out that this ‘music apartheid’ has got a lot better over the years but that the situation is still far from ideal.
“We are a nation of exceptionally talented musicians and the world is starting to take a huge interest in our music.
“What is coming out of Africa is new to the rest of the world, we have our own stories, our own accents and our own styles. It’s fresh and exciting but we need to be more organised as an industry to truly take our music global.”
The event’s panellists and supporting companies include:
- Sony Publishing
- Afrotainment (Durbans largest Kwaito/House label)
- Soul Candi (house label from JHB)
- Sony Music
- Back to the City (Johannesburg Hip Hop festival)
- Bridges For Music
- Peter Schoonhoven (ex EMI)
- Tapla (Tiesto/Afrojack)
- Brian Little (Seed Experience)
*Photo courtesy of Black Mango Muisc