L I N D A K E K A N A
I am one very proud South African, thanks to my government, for enabling me to finally be able to utter this statement. I hail from the township Atteridgeville that lies west of Pretoria (Tshwane). Tshwane is located in the Gauteng province and has over the years been revered as the Mecca of Jazz in Gauteng. I was born Linda Morake, and have like all People of Colour experienced all manner of oppression, hardships, abuse and poverty, that are so familiar to the life of the African people. I, like many South Africans continue to triumph over these many hardships, have empowered myself, and taken charge of my own destiny.
I am a product of the voices of consciousness, the voices of Merriam Makeba, Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya, Phillip Tabane of Malombo, Hugh Masekela, Dorothy Masuka, Dolly Rathebe. I am, the sorrows, laments, unifying and proud voices of Nina Simone, Maya Angelo, Bob Marley, Mutabaruka, and Linton Kwesi Johnson. I a product of the music of the sassy lady Anita Baker, Billy Holiday, Carmen McRae, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, the list is endless. I am a product of the sounds of the Bapedi people, Dinaka. I am the drum – Africa!! I am the daughter of my mothers, my aunts, my fathers, my elders. I belong to all of the- people-I-come-from and come with. I am my people.
I decided a long time ago that if all of these great people above could produce the kind of sounds and words and soul, such good music, I couldn’t help but be inspired to do my thing. I am also grateful for the influence I got from my family. I grew up without a radio at home, but all of the-people-I-come from gave me the ears, the feelings, the sounds, the words to do what I do best - singing. I was surrounded by a variety of music especially the music of the Bapedi people, Dinaka, which I love very much, and a lot of jazz from the neighbourhood. What better choice did I have, what better freedom than the freedom in my voice?
Right from the early 1980's I started writing lyrics and saved them. Later in life, my husband first made the music on guitar, and then programmed the music on the family keyboard. I would sing along, write the lyrics as the music was played. As time went by, we decided to put our compositions on tape. We kept on composing, and I kept on writing lyrics. I ended up with enough material in my collection long before I decided to record.
"I have worked with a whole number of musical groups in Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. I have worked with Zorro Francis, Kekana, one of the well-known guitarists in Pretoria. Zorro became my mentor, and encouraged me to sing. Many years after I had already given up singing, Zorro and his wife Sis Noko (Felicia) never stopped pestering me about what they knew I could do best, singing. On September 6th 1997, in a last endeavour to get me to utilize the talent they knew I had, Zorro and wife Noko Kekana invited me to sing with Zoro’s band at a wedding. I went and sang, and the whole experience was a wake-up call for me. Finally, my mind was made up - I was not going to go into the next decade without having made my dream come true. The lyrics I have been writing from the early eighties, came in handy as I prepared myself to enter the new millennium in style!!! (ha, ha, ha)."
My husband and I created over thirty songs, eight of which were recorded at Om Alec’s Recording Studios on the CD "Pula". Since my husband preferred to create, compose, arrange he stayed more in the background, and rather helped built my new chosen carrier as a singer – a rather selfless effort on his part, I may say. I made numerous public appearances promoting the album, but did not have the financial muscle to feed the demand for the CD, which consequently got to be such a hit with the local “Jazzophiles.”
Pula gave birth to a re-recording in the guise of “REBIRTH.” In both albums REBIRTH and the second newly released one, I AM AN AFRICAN, I sing about, social issues, that people all over the world are faced with generally, although the songs have been inspired by my history as a South African.
In REBIRTH I sing about the plight of women in the song Mampe, the ravaging effects of AIDS and crime, in A Cry to The Gods." I sing about change in the new South Africa and every part of the world that has gone through a revolution. Change that is painful but necessary for the growth of any country and its economy; inner change as we experience suffering and confront our inner selves for salvation and better understanding and self-love; For, it is in self-confrontation, self acceptance, self-forgiveness, self-love that we can in turn forgive, love, accept and cherish the diversity of our African heritage, that we can accept and embrace and love the whole of Africa, and then extend this to the whole of humanity. Our president, The Honourable Mr. Thabo Mbeki, refers to this change, as the Renaissance, I call it Rebirth, being the title track of my first CD. The song Rebirth," brings out all kinds of emotions, the transformation of negative feelings of being, into the positive being of wholeness, oneness with creation. I sing about the aftermath of colonization, oppression, the dominance of one race over another - the realities of all this to a people already deprived, in The Aftermath. I pay tribute to our former President Nelson Madiba Mandela for all the pain, suffering and sacrifice he endured, and his undying and unchallenged love for the African people, in a song for Madiba. I also sing about love, the essence of life, and happiness that everybody else deserves if our human existence is to make any sense at all.
The newly released album, I AM AN AFRICAN, was again inspired by our President’s speech by the same title. I AM AN AFRICAN is about you and I, rather “I and I,” all equal in this eyes of God. It is about love, i.e., self-love, the love for
other fellow human beings, it’s about taking responsibility for the way we choose to feel and do things. This album is about pride in who I am, creative, beautiful, bold, confident, compassionate, and finally free to express myself in the best way I know how. The goodness that is within me shall not be marred by how negative others choose to perceive me. In the end we are all masters of our own fate. The universe is our terrain of play and we choose what games to play. The game I choose to play is that of self-love, love for humanity.
If we believe that Africa is the centre, the atom and origin of creation, then, I also believe that if man originated from Africa, that Africa is not about colour but life, the birth of humanity. I am comfortable in the knowledge that we are all of god and are ourselves gods. It is only when we love ourselves, love the god within, that we can love and cherish others and see ourselves, see god in them too. That way we will find and discover our true potential, our greatness as a people and it is in that greatness
that we will transcend all manner of negativity and be that great nation
that we have always been, that we will continue to be.
To young people out there - Seek and listen to the wisdom of old. Your education is the only way out of poverty. Do well for yourself first, and then you will be able to extend all that goodness to all of humanity, the animals and the environment which is so much a part of us. South Africa is today the hope for the ultimate re-unification of the African people – the ultimate re-claiming of our own greatness as a people, not “black people,” but human beings first, worthy of respect and dignity. Our history will be there to judge us where we falter. Africa has and always will be, home to all, the embryo that is the beginning of the birth of humanity – a home to so many diverse cultures. Let the richness of our diverse cultures be a unifying force. Let our love for freedom conquer all our setbacks. To all South Africans – I am proud to have been born in this beautiful country and I believe that together we will rise above all our limitations: poverty, illiteracy, HIV/AIDS, and all manner of social ills if we pull together.
- Proudly, boldly, even beautifully, I AM AN AFRICAN!!!
The following strides have been made:
- Working on a self-initiated project youth empowerment project through the arts
- Am a patriot and supporter of the Atteridgeville/Saulsville Old Age Home and many women empowerment projects in Atteridgeville, structures I hope to be able to raise funds for in the not-so-distant future.
- Am involved in HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns
- Was Chairperson of the Gauteng North Jazz Council, but relinquished the position in order to focus on the recording of my album, but am still involved with this structure.
- First album REBIRTH – released in 2000
- Second album I AM AN AFRICAN – released June 2002
- First lady jazz singer from Africa to sing for the diplomatic community in Moscow Russia at the invitation of the South African Embassy in Moscow as well as the most famous Russian Jazz Club, Le Club Nov 01-09, 2002.
- At invitation from Big Ben Entertainment in Georgia USA and Soul-Amalgam Entertainment owned by Ja Barr Lasley and Ofentse Mokhuane a local international artist, a performer and event organizer to Atlanta Georgia, did an educational tour for a month in Feb, 2006. Performed at various venues and universities and gave talks and workshops at universities and various groups/churches run by women organizations.
- Third, current album released 19 Sep 2005 – KODUMELA
- Have recently been released from the artist contract with my record label Gallo Africa
NOMINATIONS FOR THE FOLLOWING:
- A nominee for the Daimler Jazz 2001
- A nominee for the Sama Awards 2001 under best female artist category.
AWARDS FOR THE FOLLOWING:
- Best CD of the year awarded by High Voltage Promotions for the CD Rebirth.
- Best Emerging Female Artist by High Voltage Promotions for the CD Rebirth.
- South Africa’s Best Jazz Vocal for the CD “I AM AN AFRICAN – SAMA9 2003
- Achiever of the Year Award 2003 from the Atteridgeville Renaissance.
- I have received several treasured awards, every year, from the community of Atteridgeville (where I live) through the jazz festival organizers.
- I have just released a new album, KODUMELA, which is to me a celebration of what my country South Africa has achieved after ten years of our very young democracy. The novelty of freedom is somewhat worn out and this is the time to work hard, smart and diligently, in order to grow our economy. KODUMELA MOEPA THUTSE GA GO LEHUMO LE TSWAGO KGAUSWI.
Way forward: I hope to continue making music and making my contribution towards our South African cultural music/heritage for a long time to come, and sharing it with all who wish to share. I also hope to be instrumental in helping South Africans to be more patriotic, claim our freedom and be more responsible in what we do with it, to help nurture a youth that can help drive a positive economic change in this, our country – South Africa.