On Friday, 28 October SAMRO put the “art” back in “heart” and went beyond the music with the Hillbrow Unplugged concert in aid of the inner-city.

To reward the loyal donors that fund and support MES – a registered social development organisation that assists, empowers and uplifts Joburg’s homeless and impoverished communities – SAMRO decided to sponsor a concert with a difference: Hillbrow Unplugged.

Guests met at SAMRO’s head offices in Braamfontein before being transported in buses to the Hillbrow Theatre, travelling through the enigmatic streets of the inner-city while tour guides explained the significance of key historic points along the route.

After tucking into a dinner with a difference in the heart of Hillbrow, guests were treated to performances by Tidal Waves, Louise Carver and the African Jazz Pioneers. The hosts for the evening, Coenie de Villiers, Lizz Meiring and Sans Moonsamy, added even more star power to the already stellar entertainment line-up.

MES holds a concert every year for its benefactors, and this year SAMRO leaped at the opportunity to come on board as a sponsor. The relationship between the two organisations was born in 2010, after SAMRO CEO Nicholas Motsatse noticed the excellent work the charity was undertaking to revive the inner city. SAMRO management then decided to roll up their sleeves and get involved, taking time out to go and help with the painting and refurbishing of MES’s auditorium at its Hillbrow premises. And so a golden partnership was born.

For SAMRO, the Hillbrow Unplugged charity concert was an opportunity to celebrate half a century of service and to cement an ongoing partnership with MES. For MES, the evening was a chance to celebrate existing partnerships and to forge new ones.

Said Kgomotso Mosenogi, SAMRO’s Marketing and Communications Manager: “This relationship is about SAMRO ensuring that the great work that MES does is highlighted and that we increase their donor base. This can obviously not be achieved with this event only, and SAMRO will continue to support the work that MES does.”

She said it was an honour to have such a selection of eclectic and accomplished artists together in one venue, performing unplugged and showcasing the diversity that South African music has to offer.

The history of the internationally renowned big band legends the African Jazz Pioneers stretches back to jazz’s golden era in the 1950s, when they were led by the late Ntemi Piliso.

More contemporary, but no less pioneering is Tidal Waves. MES and the cause it serves are very close to the hearts of South Africa’s hardest-working reggae outfit: they hail from Yeoville, a stone’s throw away from Hillbrow, and have known the pain of poverty themselves.

And then there is the sublime Louise Carver, whose distinctive vocals and power-packed songwriting combine in acoustic-driven music that penetrates into every recess of the soul.

By bringing music and compassion together under one roof, SAMRO and MES have crafted a partnership that is destined to bear even more fruit in years to come.

For more information, visit www.mes.org.za and www.samro.org.za