All roads will this Saturday (March 4th) lead to Molapo Showcase Piazza in Gaborone, where renowned South African singer and crooner, Jonathan Butler is expected to perform. The highly anticipated festivity dubbed “Afro Jazz 2023 Live with Jonathan Butler” and put together by Leapfrog will see artists such as Loyiso, Sereetsi and the Natives as well as Khoisan perform.
Unplugged’s Tumisang Chengeta recently had a chat with the organizer of the show, Thapelo ‘Fish’ Pabalinga who happily narrated that the upcoming festivity would see all artists performing and soothing their fans by playing live musical instruments, which is mostly uncommon in Botswana. In addition, Pabalinga said most events in Botswana really do not target those that fancy live music hence his relentless pursuit to promote live music performances….
This is not the first time Butler has been to Botswana, brought by you, does he love Botswana that much, or do the Botswana audience love him that much?
Yes, Jonathan Butler has been to Botswana before, that was back in 2016, and he is back at it again almost 7 years later. The great vocalist and on-stage performer loves Botswana and Botswana loves him back. I can assure you that Batswana and fans alike are in for a treat courtesy of a brilliant event we’ve put together, which will be a fusion of old and new school based on Jonathan and Sereetsi and the Natives who are seasoned performers. The addition of Loyiso and Khoisan who are also very good artists both in Botswana and South Africa will be an icing on the cake of a magnificent show.
Often, local musicians cry foul that promoters tend to shun them and invest in international artists, what’s your take on this controversial issue?
I personally and the companies that I represent have a great track record when it comes to artist handling and treatment. We never mistreat anybody, and in fact whenever we have an event, we make it very clear that everyone who is a part of what we do must bring their best foot forward, they must bring the best performance, look good and make sure they appeal to the audience, hence why we do premium events, which are always successful and become the talk of town. We do premium events because we want premium performers, so I am not sold into the idea of international over local artist. We always create a balance between international and local artists, which is evident even with this show. We are a premium event management company and we host premium events because we are targeting middle to high end customers who appreciate the finer things in life. This is why we often like to match anything that we do to the highest international standards.
As a seasoned promoter and marketer, with a knack for good things, what advise can you give to our local artists in breaking the dependency and entitlement mold?
My advice is simple, ‘do your best and always put your best foot forward and make sure that you take what you do seriously. I think far too often I find some of the the artists and I emphasise that “some” of the artists in Botswana don’t really take themselves too seriously, they don’t take their look or image seriously. It is important that as an artist, you must understand that you are a brand therefore the only way you can make money is if you look after the brand. The brand being yourself, so if you don’t carry yourself accordingly in public obviously you career will be short lived. To have a long sustainable career you need to make sure you look after yourself, your music, the people that support you and do the right things in life so that you can keep appealing to any and everybody that may have time and interest in you.
In your view, what are the essential qualities that make a good musician, a promoter and overall, a good music show (festival)?
You ought to keep chasing excellence. Even though excellence is difficult for one to they have fully achieved it, but you got to strive more and more. I don’t know anybody who can say that they have achieved 100 percent excellence at whatever it is that they do. However, so as long as you keep working hard, working smart and trying to be the best version of yourself, you are eventually going to become good at what you do. So this is generally my advise and this applies to everything in general, be it in arts, be it in business, at church, as a person, as a husband or wife, as a friend, or anything really, as long as you try to become the best version of yourself.
What was the best concert you’ve ever seen (been to) and why?
I have organized a lot of quality events but one of the best that I have attended has to be the THE MAXWELL’S SHOW. It must have been the ‘Love and Light Tour. That was the most enjoyable. I enjoyed everything really, the performance, the stage presence, beautiful voice rendition and how he commandeered the stage. Lord, the lighting and the graphics too were well coordinated with the type of song. It vividly showed his team had thoroughly rehearsed before the show, as they knew exactly what they were doing. I have seen quite a lot of artists perform such as Beyonce, Michael Jackson, Alicia keys just to name but a few, but for me the best is the Maxwell show.
What has been the best music festival, concert or show you’ve organized thus far, and why?
For Botswana is tricky but every year we host GIMC, and we always really do a super good job at it. I still believe though that maybe the best is yet to come. Who knows, maybe the upcoming March 4th event featuring Jonathan Butler could be the one. Through our hosting we have supported most Batswana artists that produce good music, and generally just about anyone in the creative sector. I can comfortably say without fear or favor, we have supported almost everyone you could think of, and we keep trying to do good. The biggest thwarting challenge in Botswana is often the lack of support especially from big corporates. Some tend to turn a blind eye when it comes to the creative sector industry. People always cry foul that in Botswana people do shoddy work – but I can assure you that Leapfrog always to do better and aim for the stars. We remain the best event management company which bring so many good and seasoned artists to Botswana, a case in point being Jonathan Butler, Kat William, So Child just to name a few. Besides all that we have achieved, we still sit here and struggle to find meaningful support from our corporate companies despite numerous calls.