Road to Joy of Jazz 2023 with Titi Luzipo

It is because of those who came before us and the platforms that exist because of their efforts that we have grounds to stand on. The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz has over the years, being a ground-laying platform itself, afforded artists the opportunity to pay tribute to those that came before. In this year’s edition, singer, music director, and songwriter, Titi Luzipo will be taking on the Dinaledi stage in a tribute show to Gloria Bosman, who herself paid tribute to Sibongile Khumalo alongside Titi in last year’s edition.

We caught up with Titi to discuss what will be an emotional return to the Joy of Jazz stage. Titi, who will also be music directing Simphiwe Dana’s show at the Joy of Jazz, talked us through her creative direction for her show while also touching on the overall significance of the Joy of Jazz platform. Read more below…

Last year you took the stage with Gloria Bosman to pay tribute to Sibongile Khumalo. This year you are set to take the same stage, in tribute to Gloria. I imagine that it cannot be easy and I would like to know why you have chosen to present a tribute to Gloria at this year’s JoJ?

The opportunity presented itself through JoJ and I’m honoured to be entrusted with delivering this tribute show. It’s no easy feat because there are a lot of emotions and memories involved. I met Gloria Bosman when I was 18 and over the years we developed a strong bond. She was a friend, confidant, mentor but above all, she became a mother to me. I am honoured to have been considered a daughter by her, and as all these thoughts come to mind I realize how special this moment will be.

How are the preparations treating you? What’s the feel and energy of your rehearsal space for this show?

Initially, I was shying away from preps and I had to sit myself down and figure out why that was. And it came down to the weight of emulating a global icon like Gloria Bosman. She was a powerhouse who wrote a large portion of South Africa’s jazz repertoire. Songs like Amaqwathi and Bombela became national anthems, among others. I grew up listening to her music and later in life came to seek counsel from her, so her music is extremely personal to me. But so is it for many people and they probably expect a certain delivery of the music from me, but the reality is I’m not Gloria Bosman. Another truth is I’m not trying to be her. I want to honour her as Titi Luzipo, and I have been grappling with that for some time. She was like a GPS and now I find myself having to navigate without her, but I find solace in the memories and teachings she left me with.

Anyone who knows Gloria knows that she was an advocate for identity. She taught being true to one’s identity and she lived by it. I’ve had the privilege of having a relationship with Gloria and I will honour and celebrate her legacy by following her teaching of being true to my identity.

What makes JoJ significant to the jazz community and beyond?

People often say I’m political and I sing about political things, but I actually just sing the truth. Before I’m a musician, I’m a member of society…we [musicians] all are. So, the most important impact of JoJ is that it boosts the economy of the city which means our people are working, be it on stage, behind the stage, security, catering, etc. And that’s a beauty to behold.

JoJ has and continues to preserve the culture of jazz. Jazz is not dead, it never even got close to dying – it has evolved into different interpretations of its nature.

The Festival gives us, as musicians. a platform to share our reflections of reality through the stories of past and present that we tell through music.

And the last thing specifically in this year’s lineup is the inclusivity. Artists that are not considered jazz or not associated with jazz are on the lineup, which “pushes” the narrative of jazz is what you make it, jazz is you, and jazz is inclusive.

What can people expect from your performance?

Mmmhhh… Dinaledi is the stage where Gloria and I held hands and took a bow together before she bowed out forever. And when I thought about that I remembered that in one of the workshops Gloria conducted at last year’s JoJ, she said we should not cry for her when she’s gone because she has lived her life. Obviously, no one thought much of the statement at the time, but now I remember those words and I want to dry the tears of all those who loved Gloria and her music, even if it’s just for the duration of the show.

So, people can expect a celebration of the richness of Gloria’s voice and the vastness of her repertoire. They can expect to experience the chemistry between me and the music; and between me and the band, which she loved so much. It’s going to be a full-circle moment. It’s going to be emotional and joyous.

Festival Dates: 29 and 30 September 2023

Venue:  Sandton International Convention Centre.

Tickets are available at Computicket and Checkers outlets.