Grammy winner rocks Lesotho

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Maya Azucena at MCLA Blues and Funk Festival Day 1 Picture #88 (#110 overall)
Maya Azucena at MCLA Blues and Funk Festival Day 1 Picture #88 (#110 overall)

. . . as Maya Azucena to also host music workshop

Mohalenyane Phakela

VISITING multi award-winning American singer and songwriter Maya Azucena will perform this evening at an intimate event at Ouh la la in Maseru along with an array of local musicians.

Maya told the Weekender yesterday in an exclusive interview, the event is dubbed Jam Session and would also enhance her appreciation of local music that she had immersed herself in since her arrival on Monday.

“We had a workshop in Malealea (on Tuesday) for the youth and local musicians where I got to learn a lot about the Lesotho sound which focuses more on the acoustics compared to mine which is electronic,” she said

“The jam session will help me to get more acquainted with the local sound as the aim is to learn different styles of music while also exchanging ideas with local artistes.”

Maya is a singer/songwriter and cultural ambassador from New York in the United States. She debuted on the music scene in 2003 with the album Maya Who? and has released seven albums to date. She won three awards including a Grammy in 2008 for Best Reggae Album following her 2007 collaboration with Stephen Marley on the song Mind Control.

The Get It Together crooner also featured in a number of charitable and human rights campaigns, releasing the track I Made a Difference in response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010 and co-produced Hope Night, a concert devoted to human rights abuses in 2014.

She has been in the country since Monday and has engaged in a number of musical projects with local communities including Malealea’s youth and musicians as well as American International School students. In addition to rehearsing with Bhudaza ahead of their joint performance tomorrow, she also held a master class with the choral division of Serumual Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) who she featured on one of her tracks.

On Friday she will stage a concert with her live band and some local artists at AVANI Maseru Hotel.

Bhudaza, SPAA, Mookho and Sadon are some of the local acts expected to perform alongside the renowned artist.

She revealed that she would launch the new single Set You Free, featuring SPAA at the concert.

“I was captivated by the creativity and talent of the Serumula group. I had recorded part of the song before coming here with my band and then played it to Serumula during our session with them.

“They were inspired by the song and immediately started singing impromptu and their arrangement was as if they had rehearsed before. We then combined the two to come up with the beautiful track which we will perform at the concert and will also be used as a soundtrack for the documentary of my stay in Lesotho,” she said.

On Saturday, Maya and her band will host a free musical workshop for local musicians at Morija Museum courtesy of The Hub in partnership with the US Embassy in Maseru.

The Hub’s coordinator Meri Hyoky said the event was aimed at uplifting the community of Morija, especially the youth through musical training.

“We have partnered with the US Embassy Maseru on this project to offer free skills training to the community of Morija and other upcoming musicians,” she said.

She also said students from Thabeng High School, Morija Girls High School and 45 members of The Hub would participate in the workshop.

Hyoky also said Maya would also perform after the workshop.

“Maya and her band will stage a free two-hour performance after the workshop in the amphitheatre and there will also be performances by the country’s top Hip Hop artistes such as Sadon, OG S’killz, Meloh, Bible Verse as well as jazz musician, Mookho.”

U.S Embassy Maseru Public Affairs Officer Julie McKay said the visit was part of the celebration of the friendship of American people and Basotho.

“As Basotho celebrate 50 years of independence we are also celebrating the anniversary of our friendship with them which started as soon as they got their independence in 1966.

“Throughout the 50 years of our friendship, we realised that we both use music whenever we have a celebration therefore we brought Maya to speak the universal language (music) with local artists and the rest of the nation.

“During the time she has been here she proved that music is a universal language as people who did not know each other before managed to work on a song together and I was fortunate to witness her ability to connect with Basotho regardless of their age,” she said.

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