Discerning music lovers are set for a musically adventurous year with scores of promising acts already lining up their albums for release. No act has stirred as much excitement in the past few months like Sereetsi & the Natives.
Led by Tomeletso Sereetsi, the author of the critically acclaimed book/CD, The Solo Four String Guitar of Botswana, the band kicks off the year with a highly anticipated headline showing at President Hotel on January 31 as part of the Jazz Xchange series of concerts.
Sereetsi & the Natives, a refreshing definitive reference in the contemporising of folk music in Botswana and a unique voice in the World Music arena, promises a fearless new sound that is as forward looking as is rooted in the indigenous musical traditions of Botswana with Afro Jazz textures and influences from Western idioms like funk, jazz and Latin rhythms.
Sereetsi explained in a brief interview that the Natives refers to the ordinary folk who gave Botswana its music and passed it on from generation to generation over the years.
“I simply bring myself and my experiences to what my people have made from days of yore in terms of sounds, rhythms and lyricism. I am never alone on stage, it’s me and the people and together we make great music. That is why I named this movement Sereetsi & the Natives,” he said.
Sereetsi further continued that the Sereetsi & the Natives movement started out in 2013. Before that he did session work, largely as a bassist and songwriter. “I have been a theatre artist since my teens. Folk music is my first love. I have played in heavy metal, R&B, soul and Afro jazz bands but it never felt as sweeter and fulfilling as when I am doing folk,” he said.
He added that he has found a way to blend folk sounds with his various jazz and world music influences to come up with a fresh exciting sound that speaks to his time while heavily acknowledging his past and relishing the opportunity to have a say in the sound of things to come.
He pointed out that Sereetsi & the Natives signature is the Botswana four string folk guitar and the many traditional rhythms of this southern African country.
In 2013, Sereetsi published Botswana’s first ever guitar instructional book, an 83 pager and accompanying CD on playing and understanding the four string guitar of Botswana.
He continued that Sereetsi & the Natives band employs storytelling and poetic lyricism to offer commentary on light and dark themes such as love, conflict, pain, joy and hope.