Echoes of Sophiatown: Playing Tribute to South African Jazz from the 1940s-1950s


Cape Town Swing in South Africa has just launched a crowdfunding project with the laudable goal of bringing back to the dance floor swinging jazz from the 1940s to the 1950s that was produced in South Africa. Here's how they describe it:

The story of swing dance and music in South Africa is a rich one that parallels the story of swing in America, in both its origins within black communities and its expression of systemic injustice. And yet, few in the international dance community (and even the greater South African community) are familiar with its heroes and the remarkable music they made.

The social and political oppression of black South Africans under the apartheid regime left much of the South African swing era from the 1930s through the 1950s undocumented. Few music recordings, photographs, video footage, or historical records of any kind are publicly available, if they exist at all. Those artifacts that do exist are largely gathering dust in private collections and archives, waiting to be rediscovered.

Sophiatown was a hub of black culture similar in some ways to Harlem in New York. Swing music flourished in this multi-cultural suburb until the apartheid government bulldozed the entire neighbourhood and replaced it with a whites-only area. Much of the culture was lost and the bands were dispersed but a few recordings remain.

This video provides more context:

Check out some hot tracks they want to transcribe here!

They hope to raise $12,000 to fund the transcription of music from that era, compile the history of swing jazz at that time, and curate artwork and photography for an exhibit about that period.

If you would like to support, head to their crowdfunding page.