Musical tribute to The Manhattan Brothers

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The Manhattan Brothers Tribute Show
The Manhattan Brothers Tribute Show

Idols SA judge Somizi Mhlongo will join the creative team of The Manhattan Brothers Tribute as a choreographer at the Soweto Theatre from 8 to 18 December.

Somizi has been in the entertainment industry for almost 30 years. He’s a respected choreographer who has worked with the likes of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, R. Kelly, Shakira, to name but a few.

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The popular yesteryear South African a cappella singing group, The Manhattan Brothers, that had a US Billboard pop chart hit, Lovely Lies, is celebrated in this tribute show. The trend-setting Manhattan Brothers paved the way for the likes of South African music icons such as Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba.

The role of Miriam Makeba will be portrayed by Mmatema Moremi.

The Manhattan Brothers with Miriam Makeba
The Manhattan Brothers with Miriam Makeba

Mmatema is a singer, songwriter and actress, and rose to fame in 2015 as the runner up on the eleventh season of South African Idols. She recently made history as the first artist to have been a contestant to host a one-woman show titled “Mmatema Moremi’s One Woman Show” at the South African State Theatre’s Opera Theatre as a solo artist with no opening acts. The theatre was filled to capacity. She was nominated earlier in the year at the Mzansi Christian Awards in two categories: Best Female Personality and Best Newcomer.

Mmatema will be accompanying Complete, a local a cappella group that will portray The Manhattan Brothers; Mluleki Chuma, Bubele Mgele, Bonginkosi Motha and Happy Motha.

Complete is a quartet a cappella group that has a harmonic identity. Their four sweet and soulful voices can sing a variety of different genres, ranging from gospel, soul, traditional African music, classical and Afro pop.

Complete has worked with a variety of South African artists including Hugh Masekela, Themba Mkhize and the SWR Big Band from Germany. Their musical theatre performances include: The Rehearsal, Songs of Migrations and The Suit Case directed by James Ngcobo, as well as Gregory Maqoma’s Exit/Exist, which saw Complete winning the 2014 New York Dance and Performance Bessies Award for Best Music Composition.

The Manhattan Brothers were extremely popular in South Africa in the 1940’s and 1950’s during the Apartheid era. Their sound drew on American ragtime, jive, swing, doo-wop, and several other jazz strains, as well as African choral and Zulu harmonies.

Members of the group include the late founding member and lead singer Nathan “Dambuza” Mdledle, Joe Mogotsi, Ronnie Sehume and Rufus Khoza. Mariam Makeba, who went on to international fame, started her career with The Manhattan Brothers and was part of the group for much of the 1950’s. The group has one US Billboard pop chart hit, “Lovely Lies” which peaked at No 45 in March 1956.

In 1959, the quartet joined the company of King Kong, the first black South African musical. When the production reached England, the band decided to remain there.

The Manhattan Brothers recorded three English/Zulu pop albums before calling it a day in 1965.

Makhaola Ndebele, artistic manager of Joburg City Theatres, and director of the show, says, “Audiences can look forward to beautiful music and a nostalgic trip down memory lane.”

The show will be accompanied by a live band, with musical direction by Johan Mthethwa.

A Musical Tribute to The Manhattan Brothers runs at the Soweto Theatre from 8 to 18 December 2016. Performances are from Tuesdays to Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. All tickets are R80 and are available by visiting www.sowetotheatre.com or calling 0861 670 670, as well as through Webtickets. For group bookings of 10 or more, please contact the theatre directly on 011 930 7461/2/3.

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