Music Student Graduates with Jazz Diploma
Musician Mr Lucky Swele of Limpopo believes the Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music he was awarded by UKZN is the launch pad for his career.
‘It’s an honour and privilege for me to be fulfilling my music dreams at UKZN,’ said Swele.
Seeing UKZN Jazz students perform at church, sparked a yearning to read, analyse, arrange, compose, teach and learn music. ‘Studying jazz was a challenge for me because I didn’t have any jazz musical background in terms of vocabulary and language.
‘During my studies, I’ve learned so many things about jazz music and experienced so much preparing me for the outside world. I have met great Jazz artists such as Sibongile Khumalo, guitarist Themba Mokoena, Bheki Khoza and Madala Kunene at UKZN. I also met good people who helped and supported me throughout my studying journey.’
Swele has performed at UKZN graduation ceremonies with his group Ubuciko, The Art since 2013. The group consists of Swele on guitar, Mr Nkululeko Mchunu (poet, dancer and writer) of Hammarsdale and Mr Nhlanhla Mzobe (recordist) of KwaMashu. The band members are all currently studying towards a BA (Honours) within the School of Arts. ‘Performing at the graduation ceremony gave us confidence that we are capable of achieving greater things,’ said Swele.
Swele, who holds classical guitar practical qualifications from Trinity College of Music in London, hoped to bring his mother to Durban for his graduation and show her the city and the ocean for the first time.
Speaking about his love for music and his musical journey, he said: ‘Music feeds our souls, it’s a prayer for me and I express myself through it. I love to perform music in order to entertain an audience and to change their lives by sharing a message that connects the social life and social ills of the community.’
It all began for Swele while playing with an empty oil can guitar! When professional guitarist and educator Mr Tom Toomey of England visited Limpopo, this touched him deeply because there was no music education in the curriculum at the schools in the area. He saw how much Swele and his community needed both music education and musical instruments so with the help of local people he set up an independent music school, the Music for Africa Charity Project, at Polokwane.
He appointed local teachers Mr Mathew Matebane and Mrs Elsie Mahloko to teach Swele and others how to play keyboard, flute, and classical and electric guitar. ‘Each student had their own instrument to learn, which we could take home,’ said Swele. ‘In 2014, I entered for guitar grade exams with the Trinity College of Music in London, studying from Grade 1 to Grade 6. After I completed high school, I became a guitar teacher at the Project from 2008 to 2010. In 2011, I left my teaching job to enrol for Jazz and Popular Music at UKZN and here I am today!’
Swele, who said he was grateful to his family and friends for their ongoing support over the years, plans to travel with his group, Ubuciko, performing in and out of the country and to give back to the Music for Africa Project by teaching and inspiring upcoming young artists.