Luzipo family jazzes it up

Titi Luzipo, left, her mother Vuyelwa Nomphelo Qwesha-Luzipo and newphew Njongo Luzipo, 11 Picture: Brian Witbooi
Titi Luzipo, left, her mother Vuyelwa Nomphelo Qwesha-Luzipo and nephew Njongo Luzipo, 11 Picture: Brian Witbooi

Tonight will mark a joyous jazz reunion when three members of Port Elizabeth’s Luzipo family perform side by side on stage in their home city.

Titi Luzipo, at 23 the youngest of five Luzipo siblings, will headline Wathint’ uMama Wathint’ iMbokotho (“You strike a woman, you strike a rock”) with two other singers, Nosisi Mavela and Asanda Mqiki at the PE Opera House.

The all-female concert tonight is a celebration of 60th anniversary of the women’s march against the pass laws in 1956.

However, Johannesburg-based Luzipo is also thrilled that her brother, Lubabalo, will be performing alongside her tonight, and she also plans to call up her mother, Vuyelwa Nomphelo Qwesha-Luzipo, for one or two numbers.

“It’s such a joy being back home and I’m very excited about tonight as I get the opportunity to play with my brother and my mother, working with my Port Elizabeth band,” she said earlier this week.

Luzipo started her national tour “The Songs My Mother Taught Me” with Concerts SA – Mobility Fund at the Orbit in Johannesburg in May and it played – to sold-out houses. Since then she’s taken the tour to Durban and Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth is on the map for October.

“I’m treating this as the first leg of what ‘ The Songs My Mother Taught Me’ is about, as I do come back in October to do my show,” she said.

In the meantime, however, audiences can enjoy a preview of the unique Luzipo sounds which have been warming up at the family home in Sidwell, where her mother and brother still live. “We rehearse here, everything happens here!”

Qwesha-Luzipo said the musical genes were inherited from her late father, QB Qwesha, who was a renowned choral composer and contralto. Her husband Sidney Xolile Luzipo is “a good tenor” and their combined talents have been passed on to the fourth generation, with her grandson – Titi’s nephew – Njongo, 11, a member of the EP Children’s Choir.

“My dear, he is so young but there is so much talent, he toured Germany last year with the choir,” she said.

Qwesha-Luzipo sings in the Jazz Queens (who are performing at Nangoza Jebe Hall tomorrow afternoon from 3pm), and Lubabalo not only plays the piano but also is a talented composer and arranger.

“But the story is going deeper and deeper, you can see it is in the genes, everyone in this family is a singer, we are a choir on our own!” said the matriarch, whose pride at her five children’s accomplishments is immense. “You will be surprised to hear that little one sing,” she says of Lubabalo’s son Bathwandwa, nine, and there are two cousins in Bloemfontein of who “I get reports that they play piano like nobody’s business!”

Titi herself started singing at the age of five, but was surrounded by vocal harmonies almost from the day she was born. There also will be Luzipo voices in the audience, cheering on the family as Titi’s father will be taking Njongo to the show tonight.

Titi has special memories of the family home in Sidwell, where her mother and father still live, and came home a few days before the Women’s Month concert to research her grandfather’s music.

An aunt has found around 60 manuscripts written by Qwesha, dating back to the 1940s and ’50s, “so I am also here for that heritage”.

“When he died, I was 10 so I never got the chance to experience him, so I’ve come home early to research.”

She also sang at Dopparoz earlier this week

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