The Kwela Project is a blog about kwela music – a musical form whose heyday was in 50/60s southern Africa. The Project began life in 2007 as a personal adventure in finding out how to listen to, and how to play, kwela penny whistle. At that time, information about kwela on the internet was very limited, but occasionally kwela records came up for auction on eBay, some of which I successfully acquired (and many others I lost to collectors with better resources than me!). The situation is somewhat reversed now – at least, there are many, many more kwela recordings to hear on the internet (particularly on YouTube), and far fewer interesting recordings appearing for auction.
Currently, the Kwela Project is mainly a collection of links to other resources that, at the time of posting, were found on the internet. Unfortunately – as is the nature of the internet – over time some of these links have ceased to work. Sometimes similar resources pop up with different URLs, and although I don’t have time to fix all my broken links, you may find what you’re looking for using a big search engine like Google. Some material is ‘original’ to the Kwela Project – by which, I mean I have copied or transcribed extracts of media that I’ve found elsewhere, and that belong to other people, and which I don’t think are on the internet anywhere else. I appreciate this is a difficult balance between depriving possible copyright holders of valuable revenue, and bringing awareness and education through the Fair Use of these materials.
In closing, I’ll leave you with a paragraph that I wrote in 2007 for this page, and which seems to have stood the test of the last six years:
The pennywhistle is a fantastic instrument; expressive, cheap, portable, quick to get started. However its versatility is perceived to be limited due to its almost-exclusive association with celtic music. Kwela challenges this preconception and introduces those who haven’t heard it to a new way of hearing and playing the pennywhistle.
I hope you get something out of the project – I don’t know where it will lead, but I plan on having fun as I get there! Keep tuned in…
Thanks for reading.