This quotation in the title was uttered by the premier English bard, William Shakespeare. So this weekend Jambo Africa Online’s Publisher, SAUL MOLOBI, is inspired by this potent poetic line to profile two prominent jazz musos from north of Pretoria – namely, musicologist, composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Norman Chauke; and a multitalented saxophonist and vocalist Lesego Nkonyane…
Norman Chauke – a jazz fundi, multi-award winner, jazz teacher, an academically-trained classical pianist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and a graduate of UNISA and the London School of Music.
Norman has passed an Associate Diploma in Musical Literacy, Theory and Criticism and an Assiciate Diploma in Classical Piano from the London Trinity College, and a Grade 8 Certificate in Classical Piano from the University of South Africa.
The numerous awards that Norman has been honoured with include the Florida Popular Music Gold Award for piano in 1994 and the Gauteng Old Mutual Jazz into the Future Talent Search in 1999.
His discography is illustrated by three colourful albums. The first was titled “Marriage on the rocks”. His second album, Jazz Dika Number 1, was nominated in 2009 for the annual SAMA Awards in the category Best Traditional Jazz. The nominees include the legendary Abdullah Ibrahim, Zim Ngqawana, Sydney Ace Mnisi and Gavin Minter.
Norman’s kind of jazz is a concoction of classical forms, jazz improvisations, African folk melodic designs spiced up with Xitsonga lyrics.
An accomplished jazz pianist, Norman Chauke, was born in Hammanskraal, The City of Tshwane, on 25 January 1968. This is the place where his love for music was nourished at an early age when his father taught him to play a guitar. From mastering a guitar, he moved on to play a keyboard.
After matriculating in 1989, he packed his bags and headed for Johannesburg – the heartbeat of Africa’s music scene. There his talent was immediately recognized and he was snatched as a keyboard player by the Joburg’s musical lights of the time: Kamazu, Rebecca Malope, Phumi Maduna, Zasha, Oyaba, Richie S, Linda Johnson, just to name a few.
From 1995 he saw his musical tastes and intellectual prowess maturing and left the dance scene to join the SABC’s classical choir under the tutelage of the musical genius Richard and Suzen Cock. The move paid off as the choir was chosen to back up the legendary Luciano Pavarrotion his first tour of South Africa.
Subsequent to this, the choir went on to back such local and international luminaries such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Sibongile Khumalo, Claire Johnston, Ringo Mandlingozi and many more.
From 2000, Norman decided to go solo. First to provide him with an opportunity was the legendary, mother of the nation, Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. She invited him to perform the national anthem and a happy birthday song at her anniversary celebrations at the Collosium Hotel.
Then in 2001 he was invited at the 2nd Onkgopotse Abraham Tiro Memorial Lecture at the Windybrow Theatre in Johannesburg. In attendance were, inter alia, the then Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Ben Ngubane, theatre and television producer, Duma ka Ndlovu and the literary icon, Don Mattera.
Same year in October, he was honoured to be chosen the principal pianist and Musical Director at the prestigious Business Tribute to Nelson Mandela Gala Dinner held at the Caeser’s Palace. Norman used the opportunity well by hiring Wits University choir to perform one of his choral songs of praise for Madiba composition in Madiba’spresence. And ‘’SITHI HALALA’’ was vigorously performed and beautifully conducted by the baton of Dalene Hoogenhout.
While playing solo at Kippie’s Jazz International a month later, he mesmerized a visiting Japanese music promoter. The encounter led to a visit to Japan in December.
From 2003 to 2005, Norman was appointed a resident pianist at the bar reception of the exclusive Sandton Sun International in Johannesburg.
During this period, he also performed in numerous concerts arranged by Oppikoppie in Northam, between Rustenburg and Lephalale.
He has also taken his music to even unfamiliar territories. In 2004 he raised curtains at the derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs in Klerksdorp.
The year 2008 saw Norman sharing a stage with Letta Mbulu at the South African Literary Awards. In attendance were, inter alia, the then Minister of Arts and Culture, Dr Pallo Jordan. In 2010 Norman released his Jazz Dikas no. 2 ( An African jazz album), he toured Gauteng, Limpopo, and North West, singing and playing solo piano at the social clubs jazz sessions.
From January 2011, Norman started teaching piano and theory of music for Unisa rural development project. And in july the same year he was selected to be the member of the shadow jury at the 4th Unisa National piano competition, and he received the certificate of participation autographed by Prof Mandla S. Makhanya.
In 2015 and 2017, he was contracted to mentor and facilitate music workshops at the South African State Theatre Incubator Programme and amongst his mentees were the Tshwane University of Technology graduates and some of the regular performers at the State Theatre.
Presently Norman is writing music, performing live, teaching and doing piano accompaniment for Tsalapeng students at the Unisa practical music exams and festivals.
My music, my life…
LES-EGO was born and bred in Mabopane, Pretoria. She grew up under strict family values, and musical background.
She studied music at FUBA SCHOOL OF MUSIC and then proceeded to Mmabana Mmabatho in Mafikeng where she co-founded an all-female band DEEVA. DEEVA is the first female band in the North West that was featured in a few educational programmes of the SABC television.
Back in Pretoria, she was recruited by another female band, LADIES IN JAZZ formerly known as THE ART ENSEMBLE. They recorded an album CHALLEGES, which featured Vusi Mahlasela as one of the composers. The album was produced by Don Laka.
Since her musical journey took off, LES-EGO has had the opportunity to tour Africa; Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Mali, Egypt amongst others; to showcase and share her musical knowledge. She has shared stages with the likes of Sibongile Khumalo, Jonas Gwangwa, Sipho Gumede and a lot more of internationally acclaimed musicians. She has also worked very closely with other musicians on their albums (Carlos Djedje, Blondie Makhena, Linah Nqcobo, Phinda Matlala, Simphiwe Dana, Zamajobe, Abigail Kubheka, Max Mntambo, Thandie Klaasen, Dorothy Masuka and many others. She was featured in the African and Jazz Music Nites at the State Theatre, where she was an opening act for Ernie Smith; and 2 years later she was an opening act for Brian Themba. She was featured as the main artist at a Gala Opening of Vavasati International Women’s Festival 2013.
Being given a platform to perform at the Drakensberg Legends Festival was the highlight of her career. She went on to be featured at the Moses Molelekwa Arts Festival, where she was the only female instrumentalist on the line-up. Since August 2014 to date, she has been billed to perform at various Sun International Hotels.
She had a platform to go and represent South Africa at the 2020 Dubai Expo as a solo musician, and as part of “Mother of Freedom”, a political dance and music movement, created and directed by Mr Aubrey Sekhabi.
“My vision is to develop more female instrumentalists in the industry; be it at schools, Universities, churches; but most of all in our communities,” she asserted with a tinge of confidence.
“My mission to educate the masses about the power of music,” she said matter-of-factly, “how it heals, how it makes one recognize beauty and how it influences decisions.”
Lesego has appeared in many theatrical productions. These include:
- She has also graced theatre stages as an actress. She played a highly fashionable character in BUBBLY BOSOMS; a play written by Palesa Mazamisa and Makgano Mmamabolo. Directed by Napo Masheane; musically directed by Letta Mbuli, produced by Nakedi Ribane, Connie Chiume and Faith Kekana.
- PULA, directed by Aubrey Sekhabi. Music directed by Dr. Sello Galane.
- AMBI SISTAS, written and directed by Mbongeni Ngema.
- MOLLO – THE WOMAN IN ME, written and directed by Napo Masheane
5) KWANELE,written and directed by Aubrey Sekhabi
6) MOTHER OF FREEDOM, written and directed by Aubrey Sekhabi.
She has also worked on and co-produced the late Jack Lerole’s daughter, Ponky ‘MAPONKS‘ Lerole’s debut album, HUSTLE BUSTLE CONTINUES.
She has released her 10 track debut album, LESEGO LA ME. Her music incorporates African, Pop and semi-western sounds which places the album in an Afro-fusion genre.
One of the songs in her album was nominated at the 2016 SATMA11, under the category BEST AFRICAN JAZZ SONG. She is one of South Africa’s unrecognised music heavy weights.
Catch Norman Chauke this Sunday from 17h00 to 16h00 on my “Sunset Serenade” jazz programme on 101.9 Chai FM