The master of the saxophone, songwriter and Grammy Award winner Kirk Whalum is set to serenade jazz enthusiasts at this year’s Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) scheduled for August/September this year.
Whalum will join on stage another legendary US jazz artist Jonathan Butler, who made his GIMC debut last year. Butler had pledged to be the festival’s ambassador in the US following his breathtaking performance at Stanbic Piazza in 2016.
The organizers had promised to bring George Benson and Dave Koz for this year’s extravaganza but it is save to bet fans won’t be complaining about their replacement, Whalum.
“We listen to our supporters and fans. Most of the people wanted to see George Benson followed by Kirk Whalum then Dave Koz,” GIMC’s Thapelo Pabalinga says.
“Unfortunately George wasn’t available on the dates and we went for the second on the list.
He says with Butler doing a lot of duets with Kirk (Whalum) it was only natural that he (Whalum) joins him for this year’s event.
“Those that attend the 2017 GIMC jazz will get to see the two jazz legends sharing one stage in Africa for the first time.”
“Jonathan loved Botswana so much that he offered to be a GIMC ambassador in America and Europe,” Pabalinga says, adding “he has pledged to help grow the event globally and help us get any jazz artist we want.”
And it seems he already has, with the arrival of Whalum. Butler told the media in a press briefing last year that the GMIC week was the perfect platform to attract the most talented musicians across the world.
“Great musicians will start coming here, I prophesy,” he added.
Pabalinga says Butler’s connection with Botswana was one of love at first sight.
“This year he is going to spend more time in Botswana and go up to the Okavango Delta and Kasane to experience our tourist sites and enjoy the beauty that Botswana is,” Pabalinga says.
He describes the jazz event as the premier event within GIMC that targets the working class. “It’s a fully live performance set up and most corporates send their clients to attend since they look at GIMC as a platform they can use for retention of their clients.”
He says being the opening event of the week-long music and performing arts extravaganza it is always crucial to get the jazz show right so they set the right tone for the rest of events.
Although the last GMIC festival has often been reffered to as the ‘main’ festival Pabalinga maintains they do not view it as such.
“We don’t really have a main festival, but people choose to call our last event the main one.” He says the ‘main’ festival will be held at the National Stadium on September 2, from lunchtime until late at night.
“The 2017 show is possibly the best we have put together,” Pabalinga says. “We will be hosting the likes of Cassper Nyovest, Riky Rick, Okmalumkoolkat, Mafikizolo, Prince Kaybee, Vee, Team Distant, MMP Family, Veezo View, Robin and Brando just to mention a few.”
The GIMC marathon of events will commence on Saturday, August 26 and wrap up the next Saturday, September 2, 2017 with the final event at the National Stadium. Pabalinga says the 2017 show will feature 50 artists in total.