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ARTISTS open up about the LOCKDOWN

sereetsi-&-the-natives

When the year 2020 took off, there was great excitement and hope for a bright and exciting chapter for many people. Among those who glorified 2020 were performing artists – they scheduled a plethora of events and music shows that were eagerly awaited by fans.

All of these planned activities collapsed with the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent State of Emergency declared by President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. The extreme social distancing restriction has scattered and shattered dreams! Artists feel they got the sharp end of the deadly pandemic as their daily bread and butter comes from the creative industry. Most artists are currently at home clinging to the hope that government consider them as well as the many employed within the creative industry.

Things have gone from bad to worse for the music industry as the country gears up for a six months State of Emergency despite the fact that 28 days extreme social distancing concludes end of this month. There is a chance of an extension though. Artists say they face a possible bleak and hungry future as they do not know where their source of income would be as long as the extreme social distancing measures are in place.

WeekendLife took time to dialogue with some of the artists to hear how they are coping with the lockdown.“Pretty much like everyone else I am in lockdown and can’t work because people are not allowed to assemble. Festivals and conferences have been cancelled or postponed and at this rate even those postponed may not even happen later in the year. Indications are showing that things will come back to normal in 2021.

I was booked for a lot of festivals in Botswana and internationally as well as for some conferences. I also had my own events organised for Sereetsi & The Natives’ 5th year anniversary. I had recording sessions lined up. All these cannot happen because of this extreme social distancing. Right now I can’t earn a living because I am stuck at home,” local Jazz sensation Tomeletso Sereetsi of Sereetsi and the Natives shared with WeekendLife.

He further stated that, though this may seem hard for him, he has decided to use this time to do things that matter the most to him. “On the flipside, this is a chance for me to spend time with family, recharge my batteries and reflect on my work and my place in the world. It is also an opportunity to create new music and strategise for the new post COVID-19 environment. As they say “adapt or die”, it is time to prime myself not to be left behind in the ensuing new business normal.”

“I will be hosting online concerts for as long as the lockdown continues. People need music to take their spirits off the gloom and doom of Covid-19. I had my first Facebook Live concert on my artist page which was a resounding success. It went for well over, 1hour 30 minutes. The demand for another one was huge. As part of the concerts, I am sharing words of encouragement as well as messages from health officials.

I have also contributed to the Covid-19 campaign on BWGovernment. It is not rocket science that Covid-19 lockdown means that artists cannot earn a living. The online concert is part of an effort to raise a buck and hopefully, be able to also contribute to the national Covid-19 Relief Fund.”The next Facebook Live concert session is slated for Thursday 23 April 2020 at 7:30pm.

“The concert series is called Serubing Live Session 2. The first was Serubing Session 1. Music lovers can tune in to the live concert by liking and following my artist page so that they are alerted of the performances when they happen,” he said. Sereetsi urged government to include artists in the relief fund. “Government should help the creative sector as well because it employs a lot of people as well. It may be largely informal but it is feeding a lot of families. It also deserves a rescue package. The creative sector should be included in P2billion government rescue package,” he said.

Meanwhile songbird Amantle Brown, shared with WeekendLife that she was booked for three shows and they had to be cancelled. The songstress is home wondering where her bread will come from.
“This lockdown has locked us down indeed, some of us have been on lockdown before lockdown even began. The financial side of things is showing us dust. For me it’s cool because I have a studio in my house, but coming to think of it, I do not have money and I do not know how I am going to make money.

I am just wondering if these people are thinking of us, are we even considered in anything. The lockdown is something I wish to never happen again,” she lamented.Brown has currently set up a mini studio at home where records her music, and spends most of her time. Rhumba veteran, Franco was one of the artists who was anticipating a successful and great turn up for his much talked about Soul Fill up event. Unfortunately, like many other events this one too had to take the back seat due to the pandemic. In an almost defeated like move, the Kwasa Kwasa star has also stopped his rehearsals.

“It is a sad reality we all have to face at this point in time, we are all disappointed and sad for not being able to host a show we planned really well for. Frank is a man who is not shy to show his emotions, he was noticeably sad at what unfolded, not just for the show but mostly because of people losing their lives all over the world.

Currently no rehearsals are going on, no recordings are going on and there is no income at all. He will continue to take care of his staff in the best way possible. We shall all come back better and stronger, we are still 100% optimistic that one day we shall deliver,” said Kabelo “K-lo” Oanthata, the Public Relations Officer for Soul fill up with Franco

“Khiring khorong” hitmaker, Atasaone Molemogi otherwise known as ATI said: “Batswana ba thomola Pelo, do you know hunger tota. I just want to say that there is karma and it’s well on its way for anybody who put their belly in exchange for the livelihood of the people. The people might pay the heavy price of naive decision making in who they so dearly trust to lead them.

But the great revelation will call for an occurrence never witnessed before in the eyes of the oppressed and the oppressor. This awkward paradigm will see the powerful become powerless and the powerless with divine protection. Mark my words. Something big is unfolding. Truth or dare is the nature of this kind of flair.”

WeekendLife

The art of mastering instrumentals

12th April 2021
Kagiso "Fella" Kenosi

You will know a tree by its fruits, the same way you will know a music producer by their works.

Top music producers in the country have set themselves apart through the quality music they produce and reap the results of international recognition from as far as the United States of America.

These producers are behind every star performer, listening and analyzing each and every note. When artists perform a vocal swell, rising to an octave that sounds like it’s going to shatter voice box, it’s easy to forget that someone was on the other side of the glass asking questions like, “Can you hit that note every night, or will it hurt too badly? Maybe we should lower the octave to save your voice?”

Producers make hundreds of decisions in each song, not to mention the push and pull relationships they have with talented performers.These relationships can make or break careers. Some of your favorite bands and artists wouldn’t be so memorable without a great producer helping to guide their distinct voices.

Kagiso Kenosi, or better known as Fella in the entertainment industry, is only 31-years old but he has already left his imprint in the music industry. The young chap, originally from Palapye, is not in the industry to add numbers, but to do his magic working behind the scenes producing hit song after hit song.

When most producers went to school to produce the hits that we hear today, Fella’s foundation and passion for producing came from being active in church.

“I grew up in a catholic orientated family where music is the essence of our religion. The love for music in its entirety emerged from enjoying singing at church and blossomed over the years as I grew up, being exposed to the internet and software’s such as fruity loops.”

Fella says he then learnt how to make beats and proceeded with vocal processing so besides the love for music, he had an amazing group of people who helped him reach his life dream; being the best in music production. The sky was the limit for Fella.

Unfortunately for so many music producers locally, this kind of hustle is basically about being famous. Some of them bite off more than they can chew just for a quick buck that doesn’t even go a long away for them. At the end of it all, these fly by night prima-donnas end up cutting corners and producing subpar records which eventually leads to a premature death for their careers.

Fella’s advice is that fellow colleagues should be patient and continue learning the craft, even if it means taking online tutorials. “Even though I’m still learning too, for I believe music is a fast infinite universe where no one can never say they know it all, I think believing in what one does, the level of creativity and being able to stand alone can do magic.

We living in an era where people go through a lot, so it is imperative for a music producer to be able to relate to those kind of situations. This takes only the right instrumentals, which will compliment emotions of an artist.”

The most asked question outside the music industry is; who chooses the instruments for a song, is it the artist or the producer? Fella gave his take;

“I make instrumentals and keep them until an artist comes to work on a song. That’s when I advise on whether I think the concept they chose goes hand in hand with the instrumentals. We will then look for a more appropriate song.

In some cases, artists can come and we record vocals without an instrumental and then get to make a beat on top of the recorded vocal which in that case guides me to make a relevant instrumental,” he said in an exclusive interview with WeekendLife on Wednesday.

Digging more into finding the difference between a producer and an engineer, Fella clarified that there is not much difference. There is actually a thin line between the two even though an engineer does more than a producer when dishing out a song.

“We use the word production to credit people who only make beats. Engineers are people who record vocals, clean them, do the mixing and master the song preparing the record for radio. I must say an engineer, does the critical components of a song.”

As young as he is, Fella has been through thick and thin with young artists. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions, because, frankly some of these fledging artists are way too complicated to work with. Fella admits that he too has flaws but c’est la vie, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

“It’s always a blessing and quite exciting because these different people of different energies and mind-sets and creativity will humble you. It’s a chastening experience and also accords me with experience to manoeuvre and adjust to people with different characters.

So truly, it has helped me grow as a person, and a producer.”

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WeekendLife

BOMU spruce up dirty laundry

30th March 2021
BOMU awards

Botswana Musicians Union (BOMU) is known for its bad reputation that has been getting worse over the years. There has been a lot of chinwag, squabbles and the organization literally lost touch. It has gotten so bad that stakeholders pulled out, and members were left with no choice but to face the music alone.

Just when you’d think the waters are calm, the new Executive Committee awarded a fledgling company, Total Music Group, to handle the 2021 music awards. This move was seen as a biased decision that got BOMU members bent out of shape.

However, BOMU Secretary General, Rasina Rasina told Weekendlife that the Executive Committee that it has many irons in the fire. He indeed admitted without reluctance that, BOMU has been clouded by hubbub.

“We pledged when the new administration took over that it would begin with cleaning our own house. We have built structures as we had promised and we are glad that they are fully functional. One of those is the disciplinary committee.”

“BOMU has for a long time appeared to be lacking discipline and proper laid down procedures. This has led to the organization losing out big in its endeavour to serve its members and the entire music fraternity. The National Executive Committee, chapter committees and sub-committees have committed to ensuring that non proper governance and accountability shall take centre stage and this is all that is happening,” Rasina told Weekendlife on Tuesday.

Rebuilding and rebranding a disintegrated intuition such as BOMU is not just a walk in the park, it needs concerted efforts and team work to actually reach that goal. A stitch in time saves nine, but as for BOMU, the entire union failed to address its dares a long time ago, but the union says everything is on track in recuperating public trust and fixing the mess created then.

BOMU Research and Policy Committee is hard finalizing a new code of conduct which will contribute significantly to how members and leadership conduct themselves and relate with each other for the furtherance of BOMU’s mandate, Weekendlife has been reliably informed.

“We are doing everything according to our constitution, logic and reason. We advise our members that they should point out where the constitution has been breached and that they are at liberty to follow due process and report any misconduct to the disciplinary committee,” said Rasina.

This is following the suspension of some executive committee members and BOMU subscribed members for questioning the integrity in awarding the music awards tender. Some members, told Weekendlife that they will seek legal advice on the matter.

“We do have members who have already appeared before the disciplinary committee on various charges and decisions are yet to be taken. We also have members who are yet to appear before the committee for various complaints levelled against them. Current suspensions are related to various complaints and offences.”

With regard to appointing Total Music Group, BOMU National Executive Committee says it used Article 9.3.19 of its constitution. The article says; “The National Executive Committee of BOMU shall have the authority to enter into legally binding contracts on behalf of the Union.’’

Rasina says the leadership needed a company to manage, host and sell the BOMU awards for five years consecutively so as to attain stability and refurbish the brand image of both the music awards and the organization. “Without any money at our disposal, we debated on the best model and agreed that we should engage a company that also has the capacity to mobilize resources. We used our discretion and decided on a direct appointment model which is perfectly legal and constitutional.”

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WeekendLife

SENEO PERRY: Beauty with a purpose

24th March 2021
Seneo Perry

To a stranger, Seneo Perry would describe herself as a young darling zealous about wildlife conservation, international travel and tourism enthusiast.

She is also a staunch believer in empowering young children through educational programs that could expose them to live improved livelihoods.

Perry is a former beauty queen (Miss Earth Botswana 2020). For her, a beauty queen should get down and put in some work, get dirt and make an impact. Of course a picture paints a thousand words, and judging from her successful projects, she lives the talk.

During her reign, Perry adopted the SOS Children’s Village. This is a home for 92 orphaned and less privileged children. She introduced few projects to aid the running of the children village, at the same time sourcing sponsors. She named one of her projects ‘Restoring the Prime Colors of the Earth.’

Restoring The Prime Colors of the Earth was founded on the basis of teaching children about the importance of conservation and environmental protection through tree planting and vegetable gardens.

The project, she told Weekendlife this week, gained local and international recognition, particularly from tourism magazines.

COVID-19 came over and messed up her strategies for the year. Perry however did not cry over spilt milk instead she was smart enough to divert into other streams of raising funds to execute her obligations.

Perry did not put all of her eggs in one basket by doing something that could make her get infected, but rather sold t-shirts that would double as a promotion strategy dubbed #PeopleWildlifeEnvironment. To this date, she raised over P7000.

“I love being out in the wild and promoting sustainable tourism. I would then pick the best 10 children that worked very hard at the project I have with them and introduce them to the wild with the money I raised,” she said in an exclusive interview.

“The idea is to stick to making the trip for the children educational especially on the aspect of conservation because realistically speaking tourism is the backbone of conservation.

I want them to have first-hand experience with the African elephant and visit the Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation in Maun. Unfortunately due to floods in Moremi Game Reserve, the plan of a game drive has been aborted.”

Initially, Perry says she wanted the children to have been those from the SOS Children’s Village. She had to put them on ice due to insufficient funds to transport them to Maun. This however did not dishearten Perry, instead she located Bana Ba Letsatsi (in Maun) to embark on this journey.

She told Weekendlife that the trip will be undertaken today (Saturday 20th March 2021).“Tourism has always been the backbone of conservation and it needs to be protected. Therefore, it is imperative to introduce children to wild spaces so they get to appreciate the ecosystem in the wild.

These young children will be leaders and decision makers in the near future. Decisions made will either cause a catastrophe to the wild or help it recover to a point wherein both humans and animals co-exist.

Seneo Perry is an environmentalist equipped with a Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurial Business Leadership from Sheffield Hallam University and Miss Earth Botswana 2019 finalist. She was crowned Queen in 2020.

She is also a member of Kalahari Conservation Society, a conservation society which is instrumental in environmental initiatives and activities that concern the environment.

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