A JAZZ musician born and bred in Port Elizabeth is among the Eastern Cape artists who scooped gongs at this week’s 20th annual South African Music Awards, nicknamed the Samas, but he says his art is “a labour of love: you’ve got to love it or it won’t be worth it”.
Shane Cooper, 28, now based in Cape Town, was the winner of the best jazz album category for his debut album, Oscillations, which was put together after he clinched the Standard Bank Young Artist award for jazz last year.
In this category he competed against the Marcus Wyatt Quartet for One Life in the Sun, Sisa Sopazi for Images & Figures, Tumi Mogorosi for Project Elo, and Zim Ngqawana for Live at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
“Oscillations is my first album released under my own name, and not with a collaborative group, and I’m very happy to win for it,” Cooper said.
“It’s great to get recognition as an independent artist without the backing of a major record label.
“I submitted my album in the hope of a nomination. When it was selected I was really happy, because it was tough competition this year. All the albums were really good, so I couldn’t guess who was going to win.”
He said since the music industry was “a tough game”, he hoped the award would help him continue making music in future.
Cooper is particularly looking forward to performing at the famed Carnegie Hall in New York later this year.
His New York appearance will be part of The Shape of Jazz and South Africa festivals in October and will be in collaboration with Kesivan and the Lights, Justin Bellairs, Kyle Shepherd and Reza Khota.
Having decided to pursue a musical career when he was just 15, Cooper encourages up-and-coming musicians to “work hard and have fun”, while pursuing their dreams.
“Graham Beyer, Gerard O’Brien, Marcel Scullard, Carlo Mombelli and the late Zim Ngqawana definitely influenced my music,” he said. “When I was 16, I performed with my friends and peers Graham, Gerard and Marcel. That’s where I cut my teeth musically,” the former Victoria Park pupil said.
Cooper, who moved to Cape Town in 2005 to study jazz performance at UCT, has been a member of groups like Sama nominee Babu and Closet Snare.
The multitalented jazz bassist is also a composer and producer, and has performed alongside artists like Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Jeroen van Vliet, Melanie Scholtz, Bokani Dyer and Afrika Mkhize.
He has written music for the award-winning documentary Forerunners, by Simon Wood; Felix Seuffert’s Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place; and the short film Celia’s Story by Ruth Levin-Forster. He also co-composed music for the award-winning theatre production and documentary Afrikaaps, and for Elan Gamaker’s Visa/Vie named Best Feature Film Music Composition at the Saftas (SA Film and Television Awards) in 2011.
Cooper also writes and performs electronic dance music under the name Card on Spokes.
Other Eastern Cape winners of Samas were Zonke Dikana, Mi Casa band member J-Something, Ifani, Zahara and Nakhane Toure. – Balisa Ntloko