Umhlaba Womile is the product of an enthralling collaboration between Odwa Bongo, Carla Scholtz and Michael Sebastian.
Translating to ‘the ground is dry’, the new work makes reference to Cape Town’s recent water crisis and life under the lockdown.
Bongo, who made his way from singing in townships to the Drakensberg Boy’s Choir, is now a fully-fledged, independent muso – while Scholtz is a contemporary dancer versed in ballet and hip-hop. Sebastian led the project in early 2020, following his return to Cape Town from London.
Michael Sebastian developed his craft – that of improvised organic dance music – by playing on the streets of London. After releasing Kayanda in 2018, he busked his way back from Berlin, surviving through music. In early 2019 he toured Bali, playing with local musicians; honouring those artists with an improvised show in a temple, featuring everything from Djembe, to Balinese dance, to Mongolian throat singing.
Odwa Bongo is an independent South African musician inspired by Classical music, African music and Jazz. His music is very experimental with a dominating, African rooted sound. Classically trained at the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School under the guidance of Doctor Johann Van Der Sandt, he also received training from Rykie Boeke, the choir’s second conductor.
For the making of Umhlaba Womile, Sebastian and Bongo team up with Carla Scholts, a contemporary dancer versed in ballet and hip-hop.