American singer, songwriter Taalib Johnson, known by his stage name Musiq Soulchild or simply Musiq is the first international act to be confirmed for the fifth installment of the Gaborone International Music & Culture Week (GIMC) jazz festival scheduled for September. Now in its fifth year since making its debut in 2014, the GIMC jazz festival has previously hosted Grammy Award Winning artists from the US in the likes of Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler.
“Preparations are at an advanced stage and we have listed all our artists, 50 in total and 40 of which are Batswana,” says founder Thapelo Pabalinga. “We can comfortably say that no other event in Botswana supports music and arts like GIMC does as shown by the 90 percent locals of the 200 artists we have hosted since 2014.”
US singer, whose music is a blend of R&B, funck, blues, and jazz Musiq needs no introductions, having beenamong the crop of R&B artists who arrived during the 2000s with no debt to the flashy and sexually aggressive sounds that prevailed throughout the preceding decade. Inspired by the contemporary likes of D’Angelo ,Lauryn Hill, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Donny Hathaway he applied his musical upbringing to a love for noncommercial hip-hop and refined his romantic and affable everyman style across a string of six major-label albums, four of which went either gold or platinum in the U.S. One of steadiest singers and songwriters in his field, he earned 11 Grammy nominations evenly spread across a decade. During the 2010s, he stretched out stylistically and went independent without wavering from his soul base.
As a fledgling young artist who, at first, did not intend to enter the music industry, Musiq performed wherever he could, including the streets, at schools, and even in galleries. He honed his stagecraft at open-mike events and other events until his management team, facilitated a deal with Def Jam’s Def Soul subsidiary. Musiqdebuted in 2000 with ‘Just Friends (Sunny),’ which first appeared on the soundtrack for Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. The song hit the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart that September, reached number six, and was featured on Aijuswanaseing, an album released two months later. Recorded mostly at DJ Jazzy Jeff’s hometown A Touch of Jazz studio, Aijuswanaseing also featured ‘Love’, a number two R&B hit that made an impact later that same year. Written with Carvin Haggins and Andre Harris, and produced by Harris and Vidal Davis, it helped the album reach platinum status and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.
MUSIQ’s second album followed in May 2002 with creative improvements that resulted in even greater success. It debuted at number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and all-genre Billboard 200 charts, and it also produced a pair of Top Ten R&B singles. The following December brought Soulstar, which eventually went gold but ended his run with Def Soul. MUSIQ moved to Atlantic. Luvanmusiq (March 2007), OnMyRadio (December 2008), and MusiqintheMagiq (May 2011) all offered slight refinements of Musiq’s mature sound and either topped or came close to topping the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. While his albums largely retained a laid-back, ballad-oriented sound, two of this period’s biggest hits, ‘B.U.D.D.Y.’ and ‘Anything’, were up-tempo club songs that sampled post-disco hits from 1981: Taana Gardner’s “Heartbeat” and Central Line’s “Walking into Sunshine,” respectively.
MUSIQ then said goodbye to the major-label system. The singer teamed up with Syleena Johnson and producer Kemar McGregor for 9ine, a set of nine contemporary reggae duets recorded during nine days. It was released in September 2013 on the independent Shanachie label. Signed to My Block, the eOne-supported label operated by previous collaborator Warryn Campbell, MUSIQ released his seventh proper album, Life on Earth, in April 2016. Although five years had passed since his previous solo album, he wasn’t forgotten by urban AC radio programmers; the ballad ‘I Do’ became the singer’s tenth Top 20 R&B/hip-hop hit. Album eight, ‘Feel the Real’, was released in September 2017 and debuted at no 2 in the Billboard 100 R&B.
GIMC will kick start on Saturday September 1st with Musiq, Sereetsi and The Natives, Samantha Mogwe, SA’s Bokani Dyer Trio, and Motlha.
Pabalinga says venue announcements will be made in due course as there are ongoing negotiations regarding the use of National Stadium for music festivals. “It would be a sad day for music and arts in Botswana should the decision be taken that National Stadium cannot be used to host music festivals as events like GIMC that draw such huge crowds both locally and internationally can only be staged in stadia that have huge carrying capacities,” he says.
GIMC, one of Africa’s biggest music and Culture Festival is scheduled to take place from Saturday September 1st until Saturday September 8, 2018. Established in 2014, GIMC is an annual weeklong event that caters for Jazz, Fashion, Theatre, Poetry, Choral, Comedy, and a multiple genre festival all in one week.