By Thembelani Mkhize
A few months ago I wrote an article for the Meander Chronicle’s Young Entrepreneurs column about Sphelele Zondi, self-proclaimed cool kid behind the camera.
Sphelele runs 95 photography with his friends and they are determined to make their mark in the media industry in KZN. One of his partners, Langa Mthethwa, has kept her word regarding the progress of their company and started Live Experience Friday, which is a live session hosted in Pelham, Pietermaritzburg, every Friday, from 12.30 to 5.30pm.
“In the beginning there were only five people who attended but we carried on,” said Langa. Now they get about 70 people on average and have moved the event to 105 Ritchie Road in Pelham to cater for a bigger crowd. They have got sponsorship from Red Bull.
Mthethwa prides herself in giving PMB’s youth a chance to shine and showcase their talents. Together with her partner, Ndinawe Siwila, and their team of photographers, they are always on the move interviewing artists and capturing special moments at the Live Experience. They plan to release their footage on a YouTube channel to be launched later this year.
“We want to showcase talent from all over the city and encourage one and all, whether you’re a singer, poet, rapper, small business owner… everyone has a space to express themselves during these sessions,” said Sphelele.
Apart from the performing artists there’s Massive Chef and their burgers and kotas that keep the crowd filled up and satisfied throughout the experience. There’s also clothing on sale by RetroRetro and Suburban Village, who offer affordable and second-hand clothing for one and all. Mancave Productions is always at hand with the sound engineering to ensure the crowd doesn’t miss a melody.
Apart from the live sessions, Fanele, one of the 95 crew, partnered up with Country Vision and hosted the Gong Music Festival last month.
The event was hosted at Alexandra Park and featured Acts like Holly Rey and Zolani G. The festival had a vibrant atmosphere with fast food stalls, cocktail bars and a cannabis energy drink stall. Fanele plans to make this an annual event and says he has learned a lot from the challenges of hosting the first one.
The music scene is Pietermaritzburg is definitely taking a positive turn. Artists who perform at the Live Experience say that having a place to express themselves is very important and they are always grateful to receive an invite and an opportunity to shine. The 95 crew seem to provide inspiration in everything they touch. Others have grasped the concept and tried to explore its many possibilities.
Events such as The Meet offer more or less the same experience but on a different day. It’s not a totally new concept as open mic sessions have been hosted around the city before, but Mthethwa says they are growing the platform to include more creatives such as chefs, writers, designers and entrepreneurs.
The Live Experience continues to innovate. Challenges can be expected as always, but Mthethwa and Zondi don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Their greatest challenge currently is finding a bigger venue to support the growing crowd, but whether you sing, rhyme, rap, sell or buy, the 95 photography Live Experience Friday has something for you.