Moses Taiwa Molelekwa

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Moses Taiwa Molelekwa (17 April 1973 – 13 February 2001) was a South African jazz pianist from a family of jazz musicians.[1] He was brought up in the town of Tembisa, situated in the province of Gauteng, South Africa.[1] His father was nicknamed "Monk", by the jazz society he belonged to, for his understanding of Thelonious Monk. Poverty and issues concerning apartheid caused Moses' education in his childhood to be haphazard. His father aided his musical education as best he could and as soon as he could afford a keyboard Moses showed promise. This led to his entering the Federal Union of Black Arts, from which he graduated with honors in 1987 and then made his professional debut.

In the next few years he played with Miriam Makeba, Jonas Gwangwa, and others. In 1988 Hugh Masekela asked him to join his bands and this period saw Molelekwa winning the first of several awards. His solo career began in 1994 with the debut album Finding Oneself. By 1996 he had gained widespread attention as a solo artist, winning two FNB South Africa Music Awards for traditional jazz, and was heralded as the successor for the great Marabi piano tradition, following in the footsteps of the prolific Abdullah Ibrahim.[2]

He also played outside South African tradition or society. He played at the North Sea Jazz Festival and worked with Brazilian singer Flora Purim on his second album. He also did work beyond jazz as a producer for the Kwaito group TKZee.[1]

The following years saw other successes, but on 13 February 2001 he and his wife Florence "Flo" Mtoba were found dead.[3] He had been hanged, while she had been strangled to death. They had an eight-year-old son at the time.[1]

Although Molelekwa has great acclaim from critics and musicians alike,[3] little has been written about this pianist and composer.



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  1. ^ a b c d ""Moses Molelekwa - Young jazz musician from the townships whose blend of the African and western offered a new vision" (Obituary)". London: The Guardian. 15 February 2001. Retrieved 16 January 2012. 
  2. ^ Devroop, C; Walton, C (2007). Unsung: South African musicians under apartheid. Stellenbosch: SUN PReSS. ISBN 978-1-920109-66-0. 
  3. ^ a b Mojapelo, Max (2008). Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music. African Minds. p. 225. ISBN 1920299289. 

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