Thursday, March 4, 2021

Kearoma Rantao unplugged

Growing up in a talented musical family meant that Kearoma Rantao was always surrounded by different forms of music.

Her mother is a lead singer of one of the Roman Catholic Churches in Botswana, and she was exposed to a wealth of music as a child, all of which influenced her development.

Her first foray into learning how to sing came when she started to lead hymns at the age of seven. Later she began singing as a soloist in school choirs as well as community and church choirs, when she continued with for the next twelve years before finally becoming a recording artist, a decision which she never looked back from.

“It’s all about improvising, understanding and knowing the composer makes it easier for you and the singers so making it is not a big deal to pronounce as well as interpret any kind of jazz piece,” she says.

Coming from a classical background, she sang choral music for a long time and while growing up was one of the constantly classified soloists.

She also sang traditional music while all along growing up listening to and bragging that she always had a voice to sing as it ran in the family, a God given talent. It makes it easier to play around and spice up any interpretation of song.

When questioned about her band rotation, she says it solely depends on who is available.

She works with several good musicians available in Botswana, and it is upon her to alert and book them well in time because as freelancers they are not so easy to get anytime.

Kearoma says it is not difficult to work with fresh talent nor does it take time to meet, relate, and have the same plan with new musicians.

She says music is a very common language, or “contagious sickness”, as musicians aspire to work together, no matter the task.

Locally Kearoma is fond of few jazz venues and Botswana Craft tops her list because of its conducive environment. She says every good person goes there, and the mature crowd there loves and appreciates music.

“Even the most respected people in our society visit the place,” she says. “But Millennium in Mogoditshane is another good venue that is loyal to jazz fans.”

In preparing for a show, Kearoma flows with her feelings, listening to music, rhythms and melodies that come to her automatically.

From a young age, Kearoma has held Mirriam Makeba as a role model and says Whitney Houston’s beautiful voice inspired her. She further points to Letta Mbulu, Angelique Kidjo, and Kadja Nin as some of the music icons she looks up to.

Thirteen years ago, Jazzlady received an invited for an audition with the former Excutedge group for lead vocalist and she grabbed the chance. She has never looked back.

While her passion is music, she says there other family businesses she is involved with, which she would not divulge.

“I never fight, I hate arguing with people I work with so I’ll do anything to avoid that,” she says of her temperament.

“Neither have I ever fallen in love with people I work with. I have always had a special person in my life. So that part…no!” she exclaims, giggling.

She keeps herself informed by reading, surfing the internet following positive people in the society.

She quips that she is about to start work on her next album and is preparing to sign a new management team to work with.
And her proudest moments?

“Releasing my own solo album last year, meeting Mama Africa and sitting with her for a motherly chat for about 30 minutes the last time she was playing Botswana. Also playing alongside music giants like Letta and Caiphus, Tshepo Tshola, Zahara, Bongo Maffin, Ringo Madlingo ÔÇô the list is endless ÔÇô without forgetting a European tour with Kalahari Roses.”

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