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Jazzing up the arts

Jazzing up the arts
Socca Moruakgomo

Socca Moruakgomo is not just a veteran Jazz musician, he has dedicated much of his time to nurturing and mentoring raw talent in the country, turning young wannabes into polished professionals.

Voice Journalist, Onneile Setlalekgosi had the chance to chat with the Jazz maestro, covering his stellar music career as well as learning more about his plans to empower the nation’s youth.

Jazzing up the arts

Q. After remaining relatively silent for the last ten years, you recently launched your musical hit, ‘Moratiwa’. Why now?

A. Sometimes one needs time to think – good ideas require time.

I had to research and to make sure pitch and castings were proper.

When I did Moratiwa, I had to audition around the country because I wanted to bring our tribes together in a song, dance and through story telling.

Botswana has so much music and our dance is unique! Also the story we can tell as Batswana representing Africa is big.

Q. Why the tribes? Any other reasons behind it?

A. I saw the need of bringing the tribes together.

In Botswana some of the tribes are being undermined but they have their strengths as well.

So I approached the Ministry of Education with this dream and told them that I want to empower young Batswana who are sitting around with no output for their talents.

Thank God the minister embraced my idea and I was appointed performing arts coordinator.

The project was executed through Limkokwing University, with Target 20 000 as the other facilitator.

Q. So how many out-of-school youths did you manage to audition?

A. I auditioned over 3, 000 out-of-school youths through the programme ‘Unleash your star quality’.

Those 3, 000 were whittled down to just 100, who were put into camp for six months to be trained on how to dance, sing and behave like professionals.

Q. Talking of the ‘Unleash your star quality’ programme, how far has it gone in terms of producing professional young artists?

A. The programme is from Limkokwing University but I pioneered it.

It has already produced a number of artists – they are actually graduating on the 18th November 2016.

Q. Are the students only studying musical instruments?

A. The students are also learning about the academic side.

They are now confident with their talents and can confidently dance, act and sing.

We have already performed Moratiwa the musical across the border in South Africa.

On the 30th of September we were in South Africa.

The student are booked in oversees next year, going as SADC ambassadors because the story they are telling is actually hitting the whole continent.

Q. Why did you decide on a ‘ritual’ theme for the musical?

A. I have written many songs, but released few albums.

I use the concept ‘less is more’. I have written political and love songs.

I knew for a long time there is something I should write about, but the question was what?

The youth were at the back of my mind, and the ritual thing came to mind because I read a lot about it.

I thought to myself, ‘I should bring this to the stage’, and so assembled a cast of 30 people to act and dance.

Q. How has the play been received by Batswana?

A. Actually it’s been really good, because I have launched a career for somebody.

The audience always seem impressed but I cannot speak for them.

Q. You are such a remarkable, legendary trumpet player. When did you discover your talent?

A. I started music at the tender age of 15 but I think my passion for music was instilled much earlier than that.

I first jumped on stage when I was 15, working with a local band.

Q. What role did you play in the band, and when did that happen?

A. It was in the 70’s back in Mahalapye. The band was called ‘Establishments’ but unfortunately we only existed for two years.

I was the youngest so I didn’t really know what to expect.

All I wanted was to sing.

Q. I hear your talent flourished greatly during your time in the army – is that true?

A. Yes. When I turned 21 I joined the army as a musician.

There were two things that I wished for in the army.

I wanted military training to enhance my karate strengths.

So I was given karate classes at the army and that’s where I picked the trumpet.

Q. The trumpet is undoubtedly your calling card but what other instruments can you play?
A. I can play a little bit of piano for composing and the guitar.

I played guitar at school as well.

I am now at the stage where I understand all the instruments because I can write music for all instruments.

I don’t necessarily have to play them but I know how to pitch the instruments to accompany a song.

Q. Do you consider yourself a role model?

A. I am not sure about that.

All I know is that I am here for a reason as a person.

I’ve been tasked to do what I am doing – it is not by coincidence.

I believe I was born a musician and I am doing my role to empower musicians.

Along the way I had to pick up karate because there was too much fatigue, as I worked around the clock and so had to make sure I stayed fit.

Q. Let’s talk about your 12-track album, ‘Destiny’. It’s quite a well-packaged album but what motivated the CD sleeve?

A. Well I have done albums before and, if you look at my CD sleeves, they are done professionally.

When I compose I look at the world globally, I am not just looking at my country alone.

I write and arrange music that way because the competition is very high.

Q. Who would you say were your major competitors in your musical genre?

A. I am not in competition with anybody.

I want to be the best of what I can be in terms of work I can do.

A CD sleeve has to tell a story, because it comes from a sleeve before you listen to the CD.

Q. What has been the highlight of your music career to date?

A. I am not sure! I have done shows around the world.

Perhaps the highlight was when I performed in the Caribbean Islands in 2005-2006. And from there I was booked to Trinidad and Tobago where I shared the stage with some of the world’s most respected artists.

Q. Over the course of their careers, many artists have lost originality in their music. What advice would you give them?

A. Be honest to yourself.

Don’t have an identity crisis, stick to what you believe.

That’s actually what kept me original.

Q. Who is your mentor?

A. Hugh Masilela is my mentor.

He guided me over the years in terms of being a professional.

Early this year we shared a stage together and blew the trumpet together – it was incredible and people really liked the show.

Q. What legacy do you want to leave in the music industry?

A. I want to leave a legacy where people trust and believe in themselves.

It could be music or football; people should appreciate being professionals.

Q. How do you get your inspiration?

A. By using public transport, and getting to hear what people talk about.

Q. Finally, Its feel good Friday, what’s for the weekend Socca?

A. I will be working, preparing the performing Arts students for graduation.

I’d like to wish The Voice team a great weekend.