Johannesburg – Local musician Mbuso Khoza and Dutch legend Mike Del Ferro have joined forces to produce a 10-track album set to be launched this afternoon at the Joburg Theatre.
Titled Afrikan Heritage Ensemble featuring Mike Del Ferro – the album is a fusion of classical harmonies and amahubo, Zulu traditional songs – resulting in a unique sound that is a melting pot of diverse cultures.
Ferro said the project was “cooking” for a year and a half, giving him a window into a genre of music that he, otherwise, would never had been exposed to.
The two musician’s relationship dates back years when they shared stages together, subsequently leading to Khoza extending an invitation to for Ferro to join this project.
The outcome of the work put together by these creative is best described as moving.
“For many years I had been traveling through a dozen countries in search of collaborations with different cultural groups and artists who were fighting to preserve their musical heritage and I think Mbuso is a perfect find.
“I love the music he creates with his ensemble, the traditions here in South Africa and it’s beautiful diversity,” said Ferro.
Ferro’s interests in exploring music from across borders began when he was invited to collaborate with a cultural musical group from Azerbaijan, Central Asia, which opened his eyes to a broader society of music – music that is different from what he grew up knowing.
“Through my investigations after that trip, I sort of became a music anthropologist, exploring and studying all this music all over the world,” said Ferro.
“Walking into this particular project I perceived myself as a guest, purely because I wanted to absolutely respect the original ways and processes of the local artists, in this case with the ensemble – how they sing and then play around – using harmonies and melodies, and it all worked really well.”
Ferro applauds Africa’s deep heritage and expressed his respect for artists who work tirelessly to preserve it.
“Beyond entertainment, if you look at what is happening in the world you really see that music is a universal language.
“Through this project we can communicate the gravity of preserving our cultures and traditions – cultures and traditions that should be passed on to generations for identity’s sake,” he said.
Commenting on their unique offering, Khoza said, “for the first time amahubo are used as a medium to marry the past and present with a view to the future”.
“With the history that we have with the Dutch people since 1652, I find it amazing that music can make us forget about where we come from and celebrate each other,” he said.
Khoza said the process was not easy for him because he had to research the styles of singing and explain them to Ferro, as someone who had never experienced the culture, ensuring that he understood the importance of amahubo and why they are sung.
“Amahubo are called the songs of the old, amagama abadala, which simply put, means the knowledge of this kind of music lies with old people or departed souls.
“After colonial wars, most of our intangible cultures were erased through missionaries and classical music was the best you could do at school so amahubo became inferior, that’s why I felt it was important to make sure that they took centre stage as a means to reposition what was dispossessed,” he said.