Yonela Mnana’s Soul Xpedition Quartet in Cape Town

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Yonela Mnana, Jazz Pianist. Photo: Suzy Bernstein 2013
Yonela Mnana, Jazz Pianist. Photo: Suzy Bernstein 2013

In association with Concerts SA, blind pianist and singer Yonela Mnana is embarking on a nation-wide tour presenting his debut album, ‘Baba’. The first leg of this tour will see Yonela Mnana’s Soul Xpedition Quartet perform at selected venues around Cape Town, before continuing his tour through KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

Many compare Yonela Mnana’s soul, jazz and classical music genius with Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles – although his singing, piano playing, composing, teaching and arranging skills are distinctly South African.

During the first week of November, Yonela Mnana will be performing his compositions with the Soul Xpedition Quartet in some of the best jazz stages in the Mother City. Lead by Yonela Mnana on keys and vocals, the Soul Xpedition Quartet comprises some other amazing performers: Keenan Chas Ahrends on guitar, Nick Williams on bass, and Claude Cozens on drums.

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Yonela Mnana is a blind pianist and singer who grew up in Mamelodi (Pretoria). Born in the Transkei and schooled in Pietersburg, Mnana’s geographical traversals privileged him with a rich soundscape including African and Western choral styles, kwaito and R&B, soul, 90s popular music and traditional music in the auditory periphery of his missionary boarding school, Siloe.

While enrolling for a B.Mus at the University of the Witwatersrand evidenced a commitment to study music, the tutelage of Marian Friedman and Malcolm Nay (for classical piano studies), Nishlyn Ramanna, Andile Yenana, Mncedi Kupa and mentorship of bassist Jimmy Mngwandi ushered him into a real life jazz experience. Mnana has since played with his revered jazz masters elders including Zim Ngqawana (2005-6), Feya Faku, Herbie Tsoaeli, Sydney Mnisi, Clement Benny, Marcus Wyatt, Loraine Klasen, Bheki Khoza and Barnie Rachabane. To date, he has recorded with Lex Futshane, and Mandla Mlangeni’s the Amandla Freedom Ensemble on their respective debut albums.

He continually navigates the Joburg, Cape Town and Durban jazz club circuit with fellow musicians and friends such as Ariel Zamonsky, Sphiwe Shiburi Sisonke Xonti, Mthunzi Mvubu, Nhlnhla Mahlangu, Lindiwe Maxolo, etc. He is also embarking on other unrealeased projects by Mandla Mlangeni, Spha Mdlalose and an eclectic musical endeavour with London house deejay Q.B. Smith, school choral works with Soultee, South African School Choral Esteadford and Ezibeleni’s Vivacious sounds. He teaches at Ezibeleni School for Special Needs and studies towards his postgraduate degree in music at Wits University.

Yonela Mnana’s tour is supported by the Music Mobility Fund, a funding mechanism administered by Concerts SA which offers opportunities for South African musicians to undertake live music tours.

Concerts SA is a joint South African/Norwegian initiative housed under the auspices of the Stakeholder Hub within the SAMRO Foundation; it receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the SAMRO Foundation and Concerts Norway. Working with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, the project aims to support live music in South Africa by finding and implementing ways to create a vibrant and viable live music circuit. It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools. For more information please visit their website http://concertssa.co.za, follow @ConcertsSA on Twitter at twitter.com/ConcertsSA or like them on Facebook at facebook.com/ConcertsSA.

Artist Links
Facebook: www.facebook.com/1yonelamnana
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/baba/id1090629722
Video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBjx9Lmrm-M

Events Listing:


Cape Town – The Crypt
Tuesday 1st November – 8pm – R 100
Address: 1 Wale St, Cape Town, 8000
Bookings: 079 683 4658 / info@thecryptjazz.co.za


Cape Town – True Italic
Wednesday 2nd November – 8.30pm – R 50
Address: 15 Bree St, Cape Town, 8000
Bookings: 021 418 7655 / italic86@gmail.com


Cape Town – The Drawing Room
Saturday 5th November – 8.30pm – R 50
Address: 87 Station Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925
Bookings: 082 672 0515 / info@thedrawingroomcafe.co.za


Cape Town – Kwa Sec
Sunday 6th November – 3pm – R 60
Address: 52 NY 138, Gugulethu, Cape Town
Bookings: 082 093 5369 / luvuyo.pkakaza@gmail.com


Dates for Yonela Mnnana in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo will be announced soon.

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