Sunday, March 3, 2024

Artist turns poem from her apartheid youth into sizzling Jazz album

The fear that engulfed a Jazz artist, Kearoma Rantao, as she grew up, seems to be fading away.
Rantao, who was brought up in an intense environment in Lobatse after her parents fled apartheid South Africa, has coined her song along the barbaric treatment that was targeted against her family.

The song, dubbed “Africa”, is one of the offerings on her upcoming album, her first, with eight jazz tracks derived from her poem that she wrote about bringing peace to the world following the atrocities.

“At that time, my parents were known as refugees. We were always on the run. Tomorrow you will be told that you are going to seek hiding somewhere. You will be kept on your toes every time as my parents feared that the Boers would strike anytime,” said Rantao.

A trail of the events as they unfolded at the time influenced her to write a poem about bringing peace to the world when she was at junior secondary.

The soft-spoken artist confidently stated that her poem, which had for long gathered dust, would be among her eight track album. Rantao says that the song talks about peace.

“As an artist, I was inspired by my family’s background. Since I was attached to fear I wrote a poem. I have since changed the poem to a Jazz melody,” added Rantao.

She reiterated that the song is about her wishes, about changing and bringing peace in the world, following the events of apartheid.

She remembers well that she even lost a family member during that time when the Boers raided and attacked those who were residing at Extension II.

Rantao said her uncle’s wife was shot dead while her cousin was left paralyzed and is still using a wheelchair.

Rantao, who started singing at early age in church, community choirs and at school, is hopeful that her album will keep revellers and her followers on their toes.

She further noted that she was able to share the stage with some of South Africa’s big choirs whenever they came to Botswana, pointing out that the choirs inspired her as they sang with confidence.

As an artist, she fell in love with choral music and, as she grew up, she listened to Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbulu who inspired her during her music career.
She also thanked her mother for influencing her.

“My mother was a good singer too,” she added.

Rantao’s journey to the music world started in 1999 when the defunct Afro pop group called Excatage roped her as lead vocalist on their album, Ngwetsi.

“In 2004, I felt that I should move and do my things alone. I started singing in upper hotels, restaurants and at corporate gigs,” she said.

She said that in 2000, she was approached by Vee who wanted her to record an album under his stable. While she was with Vee, she managed to record her first album, titled Monate, though she explains that she was not focused. She stated that people liked the songs and it enjoyed a lot of airplay on local radio stations.

“That was a time when I started performing live music with local bands. I felt that Afro Pop was something that I didn’t like. I was uncomfortable with Afro Pop style. I got to be choosey because Afro Pop was all about going to clubs and singing for people who are zonked. I never liked it; sometimes even singing for children drinking alcohol. I never felt that vibe and I called it quits,” she said.

Rantao added that after quitting Afro Pop, she chose Jazz music, which she believes people like to listen to without misbehaving.

As she started developing the passion for jazz she went around with Jazz artist, Nunu Ramogotsi, who used to sing as a back-up vocalist for artists, such as Ndingo Jowa.

Through Nunu, she said that she was able to meet other Jazz artists, such as Shanti Lo and Puna Gabasiame. She said that the artists later formed Women of Jazz and they supported each other as solo artists in their projects. She decried the lack of support in the music industry which has resulted in the industry growing stunted.

Rantao noted that Jazz music performance is very expensive because they were playing live music.
“It is different from other music because you can’t lip sync. As Jazz artists, we hire instruments, guitarists and drummers. I am unable to perform in some shows countrywide though my followers always ask me to do that. I am not doing so because it is expensive,” she added.

Rantao added that even corporate companies are not supporting them enough because they always cry that they are unable to meet the budget. Rantao pointed out that it is a risky business as she encounters more costs in preparing for a corporate performance.

She further stated that failure to pay musicians also affects their performance because they need to rehearse with people that are involved prior to the performance.

Rantao was happy that she finally recorded her Jazz album.

She pointed out that Jazz lovers should anticipate more from her upcoming album, “When the music plays”.


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