The Sabbath: a musical journey of grief and healing
Jazz musician dazzles music lovers with an acoustic concert
Multifaceted South African musician, Gabi Motuba debuted her new project, The Sabbath in a concert held at Wits Chris Seabrooke music hall on Saturday, May 6.
Motuba is a Johannesburg-based vocalist, composer and music facilitator whose music is centred around world politics, black studies, religion and genre studies. She released her first album, Sanctum Sanctorium in 2016 and Tefiti Goddess of Creation in 2019.
In the project, released on June 28, 2022, Motuba shifted her focus to talk about her experience with grief; as her father lost his battle against Covid-19, during the pandemic. As a result, the project consists of five lamentation songs that would leave any listener in a state of melancholy. Motuba told Wits Vuvuzela that: “The project is largely a very reflective work for me in terms of moving from trauma into grief and into the pursuit of restoration”.
Wits music alumni, Tembinkosi Mavimbela, who played double bass during the performance said that in The Sabbath, Motuba showed immense vulnerability. He described her performance as a form of supplication to a higher power. “Her performance was a prayer indeed; it takes courage to be vulnerable on stage and we shouldn’t look at a Sabbath in one direction because we approach prayer in different ways.”
What added to her performance was the concert took place at the state-of-the-art music hall . The venue is the only space in the city that is exclusively designed to optimize live musical sound with modern acoustic design. This added to Motuba’s exceptional vocal range.
Wits art student, Rethabile Zilila said that she was surprised at how audible everything was but appreciated the spacious nature of the hall.
Motuba explained that as a composure, mostly working with string instruments, she chose the venue because she knew the acoustics of the room will produce a beautiful sound.
The attendees’ sight senses were also activated. While Motuba was performing, there was a background theme inspired by nature on display.
Wits Fine Arts lecturer, Zen Marie, who was in charge of the displays said he sets up the landscape in response to the music.
This was evident as he displayed dark clouds as she was performing a track titled, Nabu Lobosuku , which means here’s the night. This exuded a dimmer and sombre atmosphere with the mood in the room quietening down as everybody was enthralled by her voice.
The final part of the performance had a much lighter and brighter landscape, consisting of clear skies, which was an important moment showing the transition from grief to freedom. One could clearly feel the biblical reference as she sang the last track on the album, Amen, meaning the end.
The hour-long concert was attended by the likes of Thandiswa Mazwai and former head of the Wits School of Arts Professor Brett Pyper.
FEATURED IMAGE: Gabi Motuba thanking her audiences after her performance. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov
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