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Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Expect a double bonanza, as the International Arts Foundation Inc. from the United States of America, in association with The Playhouse Company, proudly presents the New Orleans-born, Grammy-Award-winning music legend, Cyril Neville - on the same stage as Durban’s own SAMA-Award winning favourite, Ernie Smith. Both of these stars will perform with their own bands at this red letter event, during a much-prized cultural exchange between New Orleans and Durban, which is set to take place in The Playhouse Opera on May 4, 2017, starting at 19h30.

Says producer Ernest D Kelly, President and Chairman of IAF: “This bumper concert, along with the acclaimed American play, We Live Here (which we are bringing to Durban to be staged at The Playhouse from May 5 to 7), forms part of International Arts Foundation’s mission to create more opportunities for Durban, other South African and New Orleans artists, by using initiatives like the New Orleans-Durban Sister City Agreement to help facilitate projects such as these events, that take place in Durban during the World Economic Forum on Africa.”

Cyril Neville, the celebrated 68-year old American percussionist and vocalist, has been called a philosopher, poet, and one of the last great southern soul singers. Back in 1970 he released his debut solo single, Gossip b/w Tell Me What’s On Your Mind, which included backing music by his brother, Art Neville’s new outfit, The Meters.

The new group were looking to expand their line-up, and asked Cyril to join in on vocals and percussion, contributing to classic Meter’s albums such as 1972’s Cabbage Alley and 1975’s Fire on the Bayou. Later that year, The Rolling Stones invited The Meters to support their World Tour. Mick Jagger and Keith Richard wouldn’t have it any other way: “You guys should come on tour with us, with Cyril as your singer,” is how it was put to The Meters, who obliged.

Over the years, Cyril has co-written songs with Bono of U2, Taj Mahal, Daniel Lanois, to name a few. It was Cyril whom Lanois credits as the musical catalyst that led to Neville’s Grammy Award winning record Yellow Moon. Most recently, he has fronted and sung for New Orleans Funk band Galactic, the Voice of the Wetlands All-stars, The Neville Brothers, and continues to do shows with his own group, Tribe 13.

Major television credits in Cyril Neville’s portfolio have included 2011’s episode of Jimmie Kimmel LIVE and HBO’s hit series, Treme. Cyril is also featured on recordings by Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, Dr John, Tab Benoit, Edie Brickell, Willie Nelson, plus many more. He has performed all over the world including the famous Amnesty International tour with U2 and The Police, and sang for Nelson Mandela.

There is no doubt that within the first few vocal notes it is easy to tell that musical royalty runs deep in Cyril’s blood and he remains a percussionist to be reckoned with.

Wentworth-born Ernie Smith (46) needs little introduction to his hordes of fans. Both in his home town and abroad, his professional standing is synonymous with fine craftsmanship of quality contemporary jazz and urban music. He is possessed with the rare talent of appealing to music lovers from a wide spectrum of tastes, and his unflappable work ethic has seen him remain at the top of his game for more than 15 years.

Propelled by the sounds of mentors like Salif Keita, Jonathan Butler, George Benson, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa and many others, coupled with his ambition to attract young and old to listen to thoughtful music, Ernie Smith has developed a style of playing and singing that is a seamless integration of jazz, African and R & B. Hailed as the perfect 21st century artist, Ernie played the world renowned Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in May of 2013, and has many fans anticipating his return.

IAF’s Ernest Kelly, well-known in American music circles (he organized the internationally acclaimed South African production of Africa Umoja’s two North America tours that included cities, New York, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Miami, Charlotte, NC, New Orleans and Toronto, Canada) has this to say: “Ernie brings a unique sound to an American market looking for something new and inspiring. His sophisticated African-infused contemporary style has already been warmly welcomed by many American fans.”

With a wealth of new material, Ernie recently released his new album, Closer, not only to his South African fans, but also to the American public through an agreement with International Arts Foundation to organize Ernie’s first US Tour in 2017 in support of the US release of the new album.

Ernie Smith will be also be featured at the recent 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival.

Tickets for the powerhouse combo of Cyril Neville and Ernie Smith in Concert at The Playhouse in Durban on May 4 range from R350 to R650 pp (30% concession to pensioners and students). Booking is through Computicket outlets at branches of Shoprite Checkers, telephonically on 0861 915 8000, or online at Bookings can also be made during office hours via The Playhouse Box Office on 031-369 9540 / 369 9596.