The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) and the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) will present the second Icon’s Talk on 18 February 2017. 

Following the success and well received inspirational Icon’s Talk with Caiphus Semenya in 2016, the talk and networking session will be presented by the 2015 ACT Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for Arts Advocacy, recipient Dr. Ramakgobotla Johnny Mekoa. 

The Jazz legend’s talk, structured around the re-birth of music traditions that were destroyed by the apartheid regime, will focus on how township Big Bands (which are now just referred to as Jazz Bands) is a space where young black musicians can learn how to play musical instruments. 

Affectionately known as Johnny Mekoa, the legendary trumpeter and music educator developed a passion for Jazz music at an early age and aspired to become a Jazz musician. In 1964 he tried to enroll for a course in music but was turned away because of his race. He held on to his dream and today he is an renowned musician and arts educator. 

In the early years of his career, he would play for audiences at night clubs across Johannesburg, including in Sophiatown. His ambition to study music only materialised when he was 41 and in 1991 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music at the University of Natal. He then obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to study for a Master’s degree in Music at the University of Indiana in the United States.

In 1994, Mekoa returned to South Africa and established the Music Academy of Gauteng, which focuses on developing young aspiring Jazz musicians. It has become a centre of Jazz excellence, with alumni such as Malcolm Jiyane, Mthunzi Mvubu, Mpho Mabogoane, Nthabiseng Mokoena and Linda Tshabalala to mention but a few.

The Icon’s Talk will be held in Johannesburg on the 18th of February 2017 and is only open to current SAMRO members. To accommodate members outside of Johannesburg the talk will be recorded and a video will be shared on SAMRO and ACT’s social media pages where people will be invited to direct questions to Dr. Mekoa.