Down Musical Memory Lane – Bra Sledge, Still Keep the Musical Fire Burning

A significant number of musicians, to whom the local music industry owes a massive debt of gratitude, certainly need some kind of recognition and acknowledgement.

A large chunk of local musos led by Baby Tjirimuje, Skwana Louw, Kapeiks Mouton, Wiks Louw, Johnny Adams, Ghony Klazen, Ronny Adams, Elvis Afrikaner, Moegsien Isaacs, Tommy-Amukanya-Kaimbi, Godwin “Little Godza” Humavindu, Japhta Naobeb, Archie van der Ploeg, Nicky-Boy Mokomelo, Leyden Naftalie, Tim van der Heever and

Johannes “Warmgat” Mureko, have long gone the way of all mortals.

However, some are still around trying against all odds stuck against them to keep the fire burning in the dog-eat-dog business of live music. One such bloke is none other than veteran soul vocalist, Sledge, real name Simeon Kanime. The likeable dreadlocked singer has awakened live music among the middle aged music lovers, who have been finding it very hard to digest the current trend of musicians using a variety of back up tracks for supposedly live gigs.

Born in the southern harbour town of Luumlderitz in 1958, Sledge was bitten by the musical bug at the tender age of 12, then only in his formative years in his adopted town Tsumeb. He was inspired by two young men in the nebourhood, Oscar Norich-Tjahuha, and another dude going by the name of Shindambi. “Unlike others who mostly liked Mbaqanga and hard rock music, those two guys used to play cool music in their flashy cars, and this is exactly how I got hooked onto the music of Percy Sledge, Elvis Presley and Jim Reeves.

Sledge was a member of local band Donuts, and finally got his big break when he was invited to perform as a guest artist with the visiting Kuisebmond pop band, Count Five.

Hardly out of his pair of shorts, young Sledge hit the ground running and almost brought the roof down as he took revelers through the sweet melodies of Percy Sledge’s hit song, When a man loves a woman, that particular evening. Soon, he left Tsumeb with the ultimate aim to join forces with the newly formed Kuisebmond band, Children From Pluto (CFP), but strangely ended up with local rivals, Dead Wood, where he shared the lead vocals with the muscular Tara Shimbuli after a brief stint with CFP.

While at sea level, Sledge shared the stage with visiting Durban band, Prumes, and delighted the fans doing a couple of duets with pitch-voiced young singer, Little Collin. More international gigs followed afterwards. Sledge was to be become a regular home guest artist with visiting bands including the Rockets in their 1977 Road Show, and Richard-Jon Smit, seeing him rubbing shoulders with fellow young vocalists, Little Ronny Joyce and Jonathan Butler.

Driven by an undying desire to attain musical perfection, Sledge developed itchy feet and left Walvis Bay in a rush only to resurface in the city of lights (Windhoek) where he joined Katutura pop ensemble, Gypsies, under the stewardship of multi talented musician and astute drummer, Baby Tjirimuje. The latter took the young and raw soul singer under his wing, and had since been accredited with having polished the talented soul singer to near perfection.

Next stop was Ugly Creatures, but his much-hyped arrival at the popular Katutura pop band coincided with many of the founder members leaving the band en masse to venture into other areas. At the same time Ugly Creatures inimitable trio of Axali Doeseb, Nicro Hoabeb and Johnny Adams went abroad to pursue their academic aspirations. Sledge’s rich musical resume includes performing at the popular Sanlam Music Talent Show in 2000, where he joined forces with veteran vocalists, Baby Tjirimuje, Beau Ipinge, Klonkies May, Les Kozonguizi, Johnny Adams including Willy Mbuende and other veteran instrumentalists as the opening cast.

Sledge has since resolved to go solo because in his spoken tongue, local musicians lack discipline and commitment. Sledge is currently on a nationwide tour, duped “Music of our Time” and successfully completed his first show in Windhoek, last month. More live shows will follow in Otjiwarongo, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, starting with the Home Coming Show in his native Tsumeb on August 9. Apart from a few carefully selected musos in his abbreviated lineup, Sledge’s 14-year daughter La-Tisha, will add spark to the repertoire as a backup singer.

Source : New Era