Booking Agent and Band Manager, Free Haine who hails from Durban has been involved in the music business for over a decade. Starting off as a founding member of Undivided Roots band and subsequently a band manager of Durban’s leading Reggae band – The Meditators; while being a recording artist herself. She is currently in the studio working on her album ‘Nothing is sweeter than Freedom’ due for release in 2017.
Here she talks to MzansiReggae about the joys of working in the Reggae music industry and how she sees the future of Reggae in Mzansi.
Who is Free?
I am Free, daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and an artist.
What is your involvement in Reggae
I am a performer, singer, songwriter and guitarist and member of Undivided Roots Band from 1997 – 2001, and member of Meditators Reggae Band from 2002. Since 2008 I have been working for the band as PR/booking agent and band manager. I also co-host the ReggaeDanceHall Show on Inanda 88.4fm Thursdays from 10pm-1am.
I fell in love with the Bob Marley ‘Live’ Album as a teenager – ‘No Woman No cry’ was the song. Also, Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals had a huge impact on me growing up! Reggae music spoke loudly to my conscience as a white South African raised under the Apartheid Regime. Burning Spear’s ‘Home to my roots’ tour to SA in 2000 and later meetings with significant Rastafarian musicians had a profound impact on me. LKJ, Dawit Menelik Tafari, Rita Marley, Tony Rebel, and Queen Ifrica. I love the mystical side of Rastafari lifestyle. It is natural and pure, based on love and knowledge of self.
Why and How did you choose Reggae/Rasta?
The first significant event was the ‘Mo Love Reggae Festival’ held at the BAT Centre in Durban, 2007! We had all the local reggae bands on board and Jah Crucial was there too!
How and when did you start promoting events/artist management?
It all started when I joined the Undivided Roots Family Band in 1997, with Roots ‘Tosh’ Cele (RIP) and his son Wadada (bass) and daughter Greenfields (drums) and myself on guitar and backing/lead vocals promoting a special brand of acoustic rock / reggae music in and around Umhlanga, Hillcrest, Durban Beach Front and KZN Midlands area. It was a very powerful experience working with the young Wadada, the very young Greenfields, and ‘Tosh’.
Who were the prominent players/figures in the scene then? Are they still in Durban?
Prominent players at the time were, Cool Fire, Iland Crew Band, MQAWE, Tuff Masters Family Band, Jah Crucial, The Meditators, Undivided Roots Band, Jambo (RIP) Word, Sound and Power, mostly all still going.
Is there any difference in the scene between when you started out and now?
Reggae is very well loved and respected, more so now than ever before. The Bob Marley Tribute Festival and Rastafair that we have hosted annually since 2008 has done a lot to popularize reggae music in KZN.
What are the challenges that you face in your line of work?
Our main challenge has been getting reggae music to be valued and getting reggae artists up onto an equal footing with artists from other genres, eg. Gospel and hip-hop and enabling reggae music to become a self sustainable art form for bands and artists and a legitimate and respected player in the SA music industry. We have entered The Meditators two great albums, Jah Kingdom and Special Request, to SAMA’s without any recognition or nomination, in fact no category for strictly Reggae Music has been allocated, these years SAMAS was a case in point once again.
What has been the most gratifying part in your work as an artist manager?
Seeing the growth and development of reggae music in KZN and SA, especially seeing The Meditators Reggae Band performing and producing music that is world class. Also watching the growth of bands such as Tuff Masters, Undivided Roots, Sizwe Zakwe and the Rasta Project, RAW, Word, Sound and Power, Spear Nazarites, Iland Crew, Holy Fire Band – all local KZN bands that have taken the opportunity to showcase their talent regularly at the Annual Bob Marley Earthday Tribute event hosted by uShaka Marine World since 2008.
How big is the reggae scene in Durban and how much influence does it have on the youth?
It’s massive in Durban. Our youth are totally switched on to reggae music and dancehall is becoming very popular too.
Whats it like to be managing a band?
It’s a great honour to work for the Meditators Reggae Band. We have worked hard together for a long time to become successful and a sustainable role model for all reggae artists and bands in the music business, by using everything we have to generate everything we need.
What does it take to manage a band?
Good communication and mutual respect amongst all members, good PR and Marketing Skills, trust and faith.
Which is the one event that you enjoyed the most with the Band?
Bob Marley Earthday Tribute Festival and Rastafair 2016 was amazing! We had a massive turnout, the sound was superb, we are already planning next year’s event!!
We hear that there is a new addition to the band, tell us more about him.
Young Zeng Bekwa is the son of Shante Bekwa, (Meditators Band leader). He is 11 years old and made his professional musical debut at our Bob Marley Earthday in February 2016. He is extremely talented, and he loves playing the keyboard!
What other events activities are you involved in besides Artist management?
I am actively involved with my 2 sons Surf n Skate Coaching business, and have my own Natural Healing Practice.
When you are not working, what do you do? how do you relax?
I Play my guitar and sing, practice Tai Chi, read.
Any upcoming local youths that you are working with/mentoring?
Yes, there are a few youths that are disciplined and talented that we are working with as part of our crew. My son Ricci (25) has grown up around the music business and is our Sound Engineer and studio manager, and he is writing his own music and playing the guitar.
What motivates you
The Power of Love motivates me.
How is the REggae Dancehall scene right now in Durban?
The DanceHall scene is growing MASSIVE in Durban. We have RedEyeMabande and the Hott Waxx Family burning the fire this side at Cool Runnings every week and we have Evah Fresh Entertainment from PMB rocking Inanda 88.4fm ReggaeDancehall show every Thursday night and more exciting things coming up! ReggaeDancehall Artists are making a point of stopping off in Durban these days! We recently had Blaq Supreme and Empress Pro with us! Real tings agwaan!
What kind of music do you listen to today? Any South African Music?
More reggae than anything else these days – a lot of dub, Alpha and Omega, Groundation, Ziggy Marley, Gentlemen, Culture, Morgan Heritage, Sizzla, Capleton, Peter Tosh, Lucky Dube, Mpumi Maduna, Tutukane Cele, Oyaba, DBongz.
Who is the Reggae Dancehall artist that you feel is promising right now?
Which musicians do you draw your inspiration from?
Bob Marley, Lauren Hill, Tracey Chapman, Peter Tosh, UB40, Toots and The Maytals
Which artist would you like your band to work/collaborate with?
We would love a collaboration with any serious reggae artists, local and international, Black Dillinger, Blaq Supreme, Empress Pro, Word, Sound and Power, we have great local artists right here In SA to start with.
What has been your most memorable experience in your musical journey
Being taken off the stage after performing my set with The Meditators at Zulu Jazz Lounge and being personally introduced to and invited to sit with Rita Marley and her entourage when they came to SA with the Bob Marley Photo Exhibition.
What can we expect from you/ the band in 2016/2017?
New Albums Coming 2017. Free – Nothing is sweeter than Freedom, The Meditators – Your Love is My Love. We planning to tour Eastern Cape, Mocambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe next year, and heading out to Europe, China and USA in 2018.
Big Shout out to everyone that is working to raise the consciousness of the planet through reggae music, to everyone who knows that we really are all one!!
Blessings and greetings of pure love to the Msanzi Reggae CommUnity! BOOOOOM!
Link up Free Haine on Facebook. Click Here