Just less than a month following his return from Chicago (US) Sereetsi & the Natives left for yet another overseas performance yesterday, this Sweden in Europe.
The latest invitation to perform at the Planetta Festival only serves to demonstrate the incredible reception Sereetsi’s debut album Four String Confessions has been receiving both locally and internationally.
One of his first recognitions beyond our borders was an invitation to perform at the Mahika Mahikeng Cultural Festival (SA) last December where he left a lasting impression.
But why has his Setswana folk music suddenly attracted overseas attention? “I think the contemporisation of traditional rhythms is a winner,” his answer is short and simple. With a year and a half since its release, the euphoria surrounding the album still shows no signs of declining.
“The album is still relatively new for me,” he tells Lifestyle. “Sales are still good. And it’s new to other territories. I am working on introducing the music to other markets across the world.”
And that is exactly what he will be doing with the Swedish performances. Planetta is Sweden’s premier world music festival based in the country’s west coast city of Gothenburg. For five days each year a large number of Swedish concert organisers coordinate their activities in order to highlight music and dance from all around the world.
Sereetsi & The Natives is booked for four performances alongside some of the best musicians across the world. “I take the appearance at this festival seriously as it is my first on European soil,” he says. “I look at it as the introduction of the native sound on European shores and an opportunity to break into that market.”
Sereetsi will be backed by some of the best Swedish musicians. “I am honoured to be working with this crop of highly experienced musicians who have backed some of the best world stars,” he says.
While in Sweden, Sereetsi will also teach and conduct workshops for music students at Gothenburg’s Harryda School of Arts and Culture.
“I will be at the school starting October to November 6 2016. It’s a great opportunity for cultural exchange and for putting Botswana’s best attributes on the map.” Sereetsi is also the author of a Tswana guitar instructional book/CD entitled The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana.
After Planetta Sereetsi will proceed to Stockholm on November 6 for a performance and workshops.
Sereetsi & the Natives’ music is a refreshing definitive reference in the contemporisation of folk music in Botswana and a unique voice in the world music arena. His strong song writing and performance in his debut album, Four String Confessions (May 2015), presents a fearless sound that blends traditional Botswana rhythms with Western influences, all built around the signature sound and tradition of the four string folk guitar.
The album has yielded a number of radio staples in Robete, Thaa Kokome, Ngwana’Ngu Wa Enda and Ke Boletsa Mongwe. Sereetsi & the Natives employs master storytelling and poetic lyricism to offer social commentary on topical issues in contemporary Botswana and much of the developing world, sometimes as controversial as homosexuality (Robete) or as universal as love and conflict.
He has already shared the stage with established world music names such as Oliver Mtukudzi, Vusi Mahlasela, Caiphus Semenya, Jaziel Brothers, Letta Mbulu and McCoy Mrubata.
Sereetsi also headlined the Gaborone International Music and Culture Week (GIMC) with US smooth jazz legend, Jonathan Butler, earlier this year. He has most recently collaborated on a recording and stage performance with US jazz band, Anthony Stanco and the Crucial Elements.
He went on a 10-date tour of South Africa earlier this year that took him to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Mahikeng. The first Botswana artist to tour South Africa. He has also performed at various festivals including Kgalagadi Jazz Festival (SA), Cultural Calabash Fest (SA), Maun International Arts Festival, Mascom Live Sessions, and the President’s Concert.
Sereetsi is also considered a pioneer on the cultural landscape in Botswana. His 83-page guitar instructional book/CD on the local folk guitar tradition is a first. He continues to present workshops on the folk guitar tradition in Botswana and internationally. He intends to continue promoting his debut album for a while before moving on his next project.
“I have new material but I will only release it after I feel that this album has run its course. The idea for me is to make timeless music that I will have in print forever,” he tells Lifestyle.