The Joyous African Celebration Music concert was performed at the Carnegie Hall on Saturday May 3rd 2014 and the following day (Sunday the 4th). The event organizers of all African performance concert targeted the growing number of Africans studying and working in America. Most of these people, especially South Africans, are not exposed to live performances of their cultural heritage. Living thousands of miles away has hindered many South Africans from attending live concerts of their most coveted traditional music. Over 15 musicians were invited to perform for the audience that included a few whites and Asians who loved the music, were curious or were just invited by their South African friends. The event, therefore, focused on giving the Africans a taste of original traditional Zulu music.
Sitting in the balcony, I maintained a clear view of the performers and their bands performing high-spirited songs. I noticed that every music group consisted a big number of backup singers who danced more than they sang. Musicians included; Solly Mahlangu, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Thandiswa Mzeai Sipgho Mabuse, Yvonne Chaka Chaka Abdullah Ibrahim, Mahlathini and Benjamin Dube. The energy, creativity and grace of the entire continent was kindled by the unique rhythms which always started slow and graduated into heavier and louder beats pulling everyone off from their seats. Lucky for me, I was seated in the first row of the second balcony and was not at any time distracted by the commotion and aggressive and shouting participants whom I later learned were East and Western Africans. At one moment, I had to support one mid-aged lady (who sat beside me) from falling after dancing in circles and getting drowsy. Though I only rose to my feet once to appreciate a performer, I enjoyed most of the concert. I noticed that the tempo of the songs needed not to be fast to excite the audience to dance. Everyone danced vigorously to both slow and fast paced songs accordingly and appropriately. There was no specific order of presentation as both religious and secular musicians interchangeably shared the stage. The attire revealed African culture as most musicians dressed in multi colored shirts and beads around their necks and head-gear.
Most performers limited their lyrics to mostly indigenous languages occasionally mentioning a few English words when repeating simple choruses for more people to sing along. Although the South African constituted barely half of the crowd, most of the songs were done in Zulu. The enthusiastic music fans did not have much of a choice than enjoy whatever was presented even if it made no logic or sense to them. Most fans did not comprehend what the musicians communicated through their songs.
The concert was mainly a celebration of culture rather than entertainment. Although the musicians were professional and very entertaining, the crowd was attracted more by the uniqueness and diversity of the African rhythms. The attire and language was of more importance and point of focus than the content or context of the songs performed. The event brought together people of various nationalities who appreciated and seemed to enjoy every moment of the night.