London-based saxophonist and composer Nubya Garcia oozes an uncomplicated grace. Dressed casually in shades and braids, you might mistaken her for a famous songstress or actress. But it’s a common mistake she doesn’t take a liking to, because some associate females in the music industry with vocal talent.
"I was mistaken for a singer when I landed here when I got in the car and came to the hotel,” says the 28-year-old as she reflects on the #MeToo movement and blatant sexism in the industry. “We’re still in the thick of that, but yes, it’s still a huge issue in the industry but it’s getting better."
Garcia and her accompanying band are one of the international acts at this year’s Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and fans are in for a treat as she hints that she will be performing with an SA artist in the night of her performance. Who will it be? She gleefully says "come and see".
Coming from a musical family, her eldest siblings grew up playing classical music, as did she. But she moved on to playing jazz when she was nine or 10. She does however give credit to other bands that have influenced her musical style, including United Vibrations and A Thousand Kings.
And what her South African fans might not know is her love for local artists. She’s a big fan of The Brother Moves On and BCUC, and we could see some collaborations taking place in the future as the Lost Kingdoms musician hints that artists should be making the right connections to get their names out there.
When it comes to venues to play, she’s not too fussed as long as she is performing for people who are really appreciative of her music. "Last year I made a conscious decision to play in more clubs. Once in a while it’s all about a time and a place. But I would prefer a standing venue – I don’t want to see the same types of people at the gigs I do."
Catch Nubya Garcia live at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival at 10.15pm at Moses Molelekwa on Friday.