Category Archives: #PoetryWins

WNS Family Part II – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand…

Over the years the WNS stage has become a bucket list-worthy stage to perform on for poets and musicians alike.

It provides young, up and coming artists have a platform to showcase their unique, sometime eclectic sound to lovers of words and sounds.

We recently spoke to Masai Dabula [WNS Multimedia Manager, shareholder and former King of the Mic], Xongani Maluleka [affectionately known as Xongi, WNS Production Manager and Shareholder] and BlaQ2sday [one of the many awesome artists to have showcase on our stage], about their their individual Word N Sound experiences both on and off the stage.

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How did Word N Sound hook you? What made you want to get involved as a shareholder?

Masai: It was a gradual transgression. I had to prove, in various ways, that I was worthy to be part of the team. The support was also immense, not to mention the vision Word N Sound has. The hook was initiated by Word N Sound’s objective to be the voice of Africa when it comes to literature, and why wouldn’t I take the shares… I am Word N Sound!

Xongi: I wanted to get involved as a shareholder because I wanted to form part of the biggest poetry movement in this country. It is a great pleasure to be part of one of a few black owned production companies in South Africa. Well Word N Sound wanted me; it chose me. Word N Sound is hooked on me… 😉

Besides being a poetry, performance and live literature experience like no other, Word N Sound challenges those who step onto its stage and into its boardroom to learn and grow in ways they have not done before.

We spoke to the ever eclectic BlaQ2sday about their Word N Sound experience.

Blaq2sday

BlaQ2sday

BlaQ2day: Our first performance was intimidating, because Word N Sound was, at that time, the first show that was so on point. From the stage setup at the Market Theatre Lab, to the sound system and band instruments layout on stage, to the lighting and all those fancy things. We walked in there, we were happy, but tense at the same time.

Then over a year later, we did the WNS Rise of The Underdogs. At that stage, we were already used to nice things, so our confidence was already sky high the minute we saw the top class stage setup at the SABC Radio Park. We were just too excited, and we had the nicest of times.

What is different about the Word N Sound stage, compared to different stages you have performed on?

Word N Sound is world class. The trick is that, Word N Sound is open to anyone to step on their stage, whatever calibre the artist. However, as an artist, if you follow Word N Sound, you’ll know that not everybody can step up. The bar is just too high. Even the Open Mic is on flames. So, that should tell you something. We’ve been to shows where the organisers ask us if we have mics by any chance, or a live performance mixer [‘O_o]. So in brief, WNS pioneered a new standard for the arts, they gave artists hope in performance arts.

Since your showcase, what have you been up to?

We’ve had a couple of unfortunate events that disturbed the health of the band, and demotivated the team. So we had to take some time out as a band. This year, we’ll be looking into making more music than anything else, we are also switching up the sound a bit. Without giving away too much, we’ll be adding a new sound to what you already know of BlaQ2sday.

On the up side, on Friday 30 January we were announced the winners for the MTV #KickStartMyBandIntoGear Competition. We won the grand prize of R100 000 worth of band gear from Music Connection, courtesy of MTV, Electric Vines and Music Connection.

Much of what the audience sees is the result of hours of planning, preparations, mini heart attacks and many tantrums, but a collective team effort nonetheless. A lot of connections help the lights come on.

Xongani

Xongi: When we have festivals it gets really hectic and one really just has to suck it up until the end of the festival. Surprisingly enough it is always hectic, this is one thing I could never get used to. I have accepted this norm and that is how I am able to go into the next festival despite the odds.

A wise man once said, the only constant in life is change, and although Masai came to Word N Sound with no expectations, purely to be part of the experience, he and his vision for the company have changed.

With everything that WNS has done (and not done) over the years, what is your vision now for WNS? How is it different from the WNS you joined, and is that good or bad?

Masai: My vision is basic and simple: poetry must become a credible industry… Where writers will be acknowledged for their craftsmanship. Africa has many stories to tell, and we need to harness those stories for the world at large. My vision for Word N Sound has altered, and I have grown. It has solidified thanks to my team and I can easily say the vision is feasible.

As a former King of the Mic, what is your opinion on the type of performances you have seen on the stage?

Masai: Word N Sound has given a face-lift to poetry! There’s so much stigma attached to poetry. WNS has managed to challenge writers in ways I didn’t imagine when I first stepped on that stage. Our stage adjures writers to challenge the status quo and question conventional thinking. This is the main ingredient to an amazing show and strengthening the movement.

Who was your most hectic adversary?

Nova and Mutle were my greatest foes, but I grew to love them and respect them regardless of our clashes.

What is your advise for all those who are still to step on the mic?

Masai: When one steps on stage, one should have the decency of being honest.

Xongi: To the performers, my advice would have to be that they must always enjoy their moments on stage, because when we as the audience see that you are enjoying yourself, we will, too.

BlaQ2sday: Plain and simple: Our advice to the next artists is – Understand that you’re not dealing with a small time brand, so just to be safe, bring a world class showcase.

What would you like to see from Word N Sound in future?

BlaQ2sday: We would definitely love to see Word N Sound growing to be more than what it already is. Something like a franchise almost. The whole of South Africa needs to be exposed to what Word N Sound is doing for artists. So it would be nice to extend that to other parts of the country, and eventually the world. And a National Festival doesn’t sound bad neither, #InWordNSoundWeTrust!

Xongi: For the company I would like to say that we should never stop! We are a monster of a company and the world is yet to see more amazing things come from us. #INWNSWETRUST #POETRYWINS #ABEAST this thing…

Would you come back to the WNS stage in future? Why?

BlaQ2sday: Is this a trick question?

The more I speak to people about Word N Sound, the more it starts sounding like the pied piper of poetry. All those who hear the Word N Sound story, find their ways to its doors, and never want to leave.

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WNS Family Part I – Being part of something bigger – Why we joined WNS

Why We Joined WNS

Some people walk though doors, onto stages and find themselves in the middle of a boardroom and never quite leave. This is exactly what happened to these to WNS shareholders.

Word N Sound, like many other movements, started as a desire, a thought. With an initial audience of 5 at it’s inaugural show, the live literature company has come a long way over the past 4 years to hosting sold out monthly shows across the Johannesburg city-scape.

The company has grown from that very first show in 2010 to bringing audiences some of the best young poets South Africa has to offer – to bringing the world’s poets to South African stages, taking South African poets to the world, to a launching a Digital Stores where poets can sell their work.

At the core of it all though, is a little show hosted on the 1st Saturday of every month for those craving a fix of poetry.

Word of mouth is still the most effective way of marketing, which is what led to these two, would be shareholders, walking through our doors a few years ago.

Both Mpho Khosi and Mutle Mothibe first heard about Word N Sound from a friend – so they came, they saw and haven’t left since. They share similar visions, but are informed by different schools of thought.

Q: How did WNS hook you? What was it about the platform that made you want to be a part of it as a shareholder?

Mpho: I was hooked by the idea of being part of a generation that evolved poetry in South Africa, a part of something bigger than just being a poet

Mutle: Their vision for spoken word art, well ART in general. I felt they shared some of the vision I have when it comes to growing this art into an industry and having artists live off their art. The idea that we could spark a movement that could have out children living off of this art is one that is very close to my heart. I felt then that these are people I want to align my energy with towards achieving the goals we have in mind.

Q: Coming in, what were your expectations?

Mpho: Honestly, I came in just looking to break my “in the closet poet” tag. I just needed a platform and found it on the Word N Sound stage. This has all changed as I have come to realise the amount of work that goes into providing the platform.

Mutle: Not really… I came in fully aware that it’s all in me. It’s all about what I can bring to the table to make this endeavour a success. I have always felt that the team concentrates on what every individual can bring to the table and we work hard which in turn makes the bigger picture work more smoothly.

Regardless, both found themselves at home with the WNS family and have accumulated a world of memories and experiences in their hearts and minds.

Q: What was one of your most memorable performances/moments with WNS?

Mpho: The first Word N Sound festival. It was something out of this world, more so as I was part of this rebirth of a super sleeping giant.

Q: With everything that WNS has done (and not done) over the years, what’s your vision now for WNS? How is it different from the WNS you joined when you did, and is that good or bad?

Mutle: Well the vision has not changed really… if anything we still have the same goals but now we are more equipped to meet the challenges that pop up. There are a lot of ideas that have been lying dormant in volts and we are now revisiting them because we have the resources to bring them to fruition.

Word N Sound is not the first poetry collective in the country. Many movements and organisations start with brilliant ideas, passion and drive, and fizzle somewhere along the line, sometimes even before they pick up any pace.

Speaking to the two shareholders, they both seem to attribute the success of Word N Sound, partly, to the connectedness and unity in the collective, despite the challenges that might have come along the way.

Q: Many movements wither and die. What do you think WNS did differently?

Mpho: Word N Sound has found a way of engaging their audience. We have not only provided a platform, but have also helped grow the community of poets

Mutle: I think what has helped WNS’ staying power is a sense of family with which the company shareholders work. Our marketing has evolved over the years and has helped us reach diverse audiences. Another huge factor is that the calibre of art coming out of the WNS league has created a huge shift in the spoken word arena. So much so that people from other provinces, countries and even other continents are engaging us about being part of the league or finding out if we could host the league in their area. We have become a worldwide brand and these factors have helped sustain and promote the growth of the company along with its staying power.

 Q: Any advice you would give WNS?

Mpho: Keep your head down, eyes open and always listen to your audience; they know what product they want to invest in.

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Word N Sound crowns a new Queen of the Mic

Saturday 4th October saw the 2014 WordNSound Open Mic Finals take place during the at the 4th Annual Word N Sound International Youth Poetry Festival held in partnership with  the Soweto Theatre.

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Remember we told you the finals would be breath-taking? I don’t think any of us were fully prepared for the Word N Sound Open Mic Finals.

After months of competition in the Open Mic League this year, it boiled down to this one night. 3 poems per performer, one stage, one winner. We thought we knew. We thought we had an idea. We thought we’d seen it all…

…And then it began.

I don’t think the Soweto Theatre will forget what it bore witness on this momentous occasion. When we say it went down, we mean literally. The stage came alive with props, from oil and powder by a blindfolded Zewande, to condoms and cards by Thando, balls of paper by Nkosinathi, and smoke, courtesy of Xabiso’s incense; we saw flames (by means of a projection on the screen).

What did you expect though? This is the WordNSound stage we’re talking about.

The first round saw three contestants bowing out, leaving Xabiso, Zewande, and Thando to do battle for the crown.

At this point the gloves came off, (and so were the costumes). The competition was tight. The final points tally was close, but in the end there could only be one.

They stood on their feet, they pumped their fists and shouted her name, all this before the judges even announced it.

After a night of standing ovations, including one during her poem (believe it), the WordNSound Open Mic Crown went to the unsuspecting Thando Buthelezi.

 

Nothando Nelisiwe Buthelezi  2014 WordNSound Queen Of The Mic

Nothando Nelisiwe Buthelezi
2014 WordNSound Queen Of The Mic

“I feel like I represent a certain group of people. I represent the rural ones. The rural guys who write in their Zulu language, those guys who don’t have a formal way of writing. I represent those people who are just .. you know?”

That is what Thando said a few weeks before the finals when we had asked her what set her apart from her compition.

… and the audience agreed (well, the ones we spoke to after the show). They loved her. Congratulations to all of the finalists. The performances set a whole new standard.

Congratulations to the new Queen of the Mic.

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WordNSound touches Eusebius McKaiser on his Studio

Self confessed poetry/spoken word philistine, Eusebius McKaiser was touched on[in] his studio by WordNSound CEO- Thabiso Afurakan Mohare and The Reining Queen of the WNS Open Mic League- Mandi Poefficient Vundla when they invaded his Power987 Studio on Wednesday for his week WORD! Feature.

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Wordsmiths “Speak The Mind” at Arts Alive

Speak the Mind 9 sessions have been part of Arts Alive since 2005, with the objective to create a word class platform for local and international artists, and also to revive the spoken word spirit. Fusing music, hip hop and beats with spoken word, Speak the Mind 9 sessions include workshops, live performances and dialogue sessions. The main organiser/creator of Speak The Mind 9 is neither a poet or performer, but runs one of the longest running spoken word showcases. This year it will be taking place at the Joburg Theatre. Previous years have had the likes of Napo Masheane, Natalie The Floacist Stewart from Floetry fame, Nova Masango, The Muffinz, and Def Poetry performer Shanelle Gabriel, who have graced stages from Bassline, to Arts on Main. The show has now expanded to Cape Town in collaboration with Artscape. Due to popular demand, some artists do return to the stage, and this year there are a few, including American artist Queen Godis. Tumi and DJ Kenzhero on the decks. This year, expect to see:

  • Gratitude Fisher
  • Mandi “Poefficient” Vundla
  • Tumi
  • Soul House Project
  • Lebo Mashile
  • Dr Mongane Wally Serote
  • Josh Meck, from Zimbabwe
  • Jazz P, from Swaziland
  • Queen Godis from the USA
  • Efe Paul Azino from Nigeria
  • Mtuabaruka from Jamaica

Here are some short bios on the artists performing:

Soul Housing Project

SoulHousingProject

Bokani Dyer, Sakhile Moleshe, Eugene”Mr Grooves” Ackerman, Al “Dirt” du Toit and Kissangwa Mbouta make up the Cape Town based band. Founded in 2007 by lead singer Sakhile Moleshe and Bokani, the band has played at the Grand Daddy Hotel and the Fifa World Cup Fan Park, as well as many stages abroad and locally. With jazz, hiphop, dubstep and house music as their influences, Bokani and Sakhile compose the band’s music, and they are currently working on their debut album You can hear them on their SoundCloud page: https://soundcloud.com/soulhousingproject  

Dr Wally Serote

dr mongane wally serote

Dr Wally Serote is an internationally acclaimed South African writer and poet. Known as one of the Soweto poets in the 1970s who resisted the Apartheid regime through their poetry and literature. He holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree from Columbia University and ho norary doctorates in Literature from  the Universities of Natal and Transkei. Wally’s bodies of work include essays, poetry and novels, the most recent being his 2013 book titled Rumours.

Efe Paul Azino

efe-paul

Lagos based Nigerian poet and writer Efe Paul has been in the Naija spoken word circles for over a decade. A self-proclaimed book worm, Efe Paul is regarded as one of Nigeria’s top poets. He has performed on many stages and many audiences, from conferences to churches. He is inspired by the socio-economic and political issues of Nigeria. Here’s a link to one of his poems: http://efepaulspeaks.com/video/

Josh Meck

Josh Meck

Zimbabwean born Josh Meck is a jazz musician. Before relocating to Johannesburg is 2012, Josh performed at concerts and festivals in Harare in Zimababwe, Zambia, Stolkholm in Sweden and Durban in South Africa. The bass guitarist has been in the jazz music industry for well over 10 years, has two albums and says his music has a touch of social commentary. He performed at the Arts Alive’s Jazz on the Lake at Zoo Lake on Sunday, so it will be interesting to hear what he has to share at the spoken word event

Queen Godis

queen godis

Born and raised in Brooklyn in the USA, Queen Godis is a singer, poet, and director, and “performance art therapist”. In 2001 she founded Queen Godis University, through which she offers life skills coaching and mentoring, aimed at high school and university students, using poetry. No stranger to the Speak The Mind stage, she has also performed in New York, France, and was part of a Choreo-poem workshop in Trinidad. A link to one of her videos: http://www.reverbnation.com/queengodis  

Jazz P

Maputo based Swati artist Jazz P, is a hip hop and soul singer and lyricist who performs in both siSwati and English. She released an album, In My Heart in 2012, is a founder member of the band The Next Generation, and has performed in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique. A link to one of her songs off her album: https://soundcloud.com/jazz-p/sweet-melody-by-jazz-p

Lebo Mashile

lebo mashile

Poet, producer, presenter, MC, actress, author, and mother Lebo Mashile needs no introduction. She won the Noma Award for Publishing in Africa in 2006, she co-founded ‘Feel-a-sista’ spoken word collective along with Myesha Jenkins and Ntsiki Mazwai, she acted on the Oscar nominated film Hotel Rwanda, presented and co-produced the tv show L’Atitude, published anthologies and even had one translated in Germany … we could go on forever. She currently presents Great Expectations on eTV, a show about pregnancy and parenting. http://www.lyrikline.org/en/poems/love-elastic-4119#.VAe4OPmSxDI

Tumi tumi

Tanzanian born Tumi Molekane South Africa Tumi Molekane, famously known as Tumi from Tumi and the Volume, is a poet/MC. Founder of  Motif Records in 2006, which boasts local artists such as Reason, Ricky Rick, 8 Bars Short, Nova, not forgetting Tumi himself. Tumi has shared the stage with great names in hiphop, including Talib Kweli, and recently has worked with the likes of Zyon of Liquid Deep, L-Tido, Zeus, AKA, the list goes on. In the early 2000s he released an anthology called The Black Inside Out. In recent years Tumi has performed at TEDx Soweto, Poetry Africa as well as Speak the Mind in previous years. Next month he drops his next solo offering, called Rob The Church https://soundcloud.com/motifrecords

Mutabaruka

mutabaruka

Born in Kingston Jamaica in 1952, Allan Mutabaruka is a dub poet who has graced the stage of Speak the Mind and Def Jam a number of times. He came to fame in the 1970s. His poems touch on black history and consciousness, spiritual awareness, imperialism and colonialism. He recently released a double volume of poetry, which consists of his old works, Mutabaruka: the first poems and his more recent works, Mutabaruka: the next poems. Not new to the Speak the Mind Stage, it will be interesting to hear what he has to offer this time around

 

Gratitude Fisher

gratitude fisherSibongile Fisher, also known as Gratitude Fisher, is a poet, writer and actress. She started writing in 2005, and in 2009 joined the UJ Poetry Society. She has shared the stage with poets such as Mysesha Jenkins, Likwid Tongue, and has performed on stages at Bassline, the Soweto Theatre, the Market Theatre Lab to name but a few. https://soundcloud.com/gratitude-fisher/a-poem-for-africa

Mandi Poefficient Vundla

mandi1

Mandi exploded onto the spoken word scene in 2011, and hasn’t looked back since. Although she was writing since her teens, destiny revealed itself to her and us in 2011. Mandi has blossomed in front of our eyes. Her pieces are personal, deeply moving, reflective, sometimes introspective, almost like the pages in her diary. Miss Poefficient has  shared the stage with Poetry Legends, performed on the Art Alive and the Jozi Book Fair , and in 2012 crowned Word n Sound’s Queen of the Mic, nominated for a Perfect Poem Award. She is to be one of the youngest poets to grace the international Speak the Mind stage   To miss the rush Click Here to Order Tickets Now

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#PoetryWins…even on TV

Last night, The Right To Win democracy TV game show came to an end with a battle between Nonhle Thema and Word N sound Founder, Afurakan Mohare.

“Miyela Foundation is very close to my heart as their work contributes directly to my work of growing a nation of writers. Spelling promotes appreciation for language and the proper use of language. It is also an important part of learning how to read and write. As the hosts of the only Spelling Bee in South Africa, I believe that my little contribution will assist them with this year’s event,” says Afurakan.

Poetry just keeps winning and we salute you on your winnings!

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