Kabantu stems from the word “ubuntu” meaning “humanity – the belief in a universal bond that connects all people”. It is a hybrid of the South African languages Sotho and Zulu translating as “of the people”.
“Ubuntu” is the basis of the Zulu phrase “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu - a person is a person through other people” or “I am what I am because of who we all are”.
We celebrate the space where different cultures meet, throwing away the rulebook to embrace traditions from the around the world.
We believe that bringing people together enriches us and makes us grow as musicians, as a society and as artists within an ever-shrinking world.
As musicians of the 21st century, we grew up with the internet, the world-wide web, truly connecting the world. We have YouTube and Spotify at our fingertips, the ultimate library of resources where we can switch genre at the click of a button.
We live in Manchester, one of the UK’s most welcoming, diverse and open-minded cities where a hundred different nationalities nestle side by side. Collectively we hail from the dusty streets of Johannesburg’s townships, the multicultural city of Leicester, Scotland’s beautiful city of Edinburgh, steeped in history... France, Germany and even Bury.
True virtuosity as a musician is being able to turn your hand to any genre or music, with your instrument merely as a vehicle.
We created Kabantu because, despite our classical training, this hybrid of different genres is the music we really listen to and where we source so much joy and energy. We wanted to think as “musicians” and not merely as “instrumentalists”; in Kabantu we all sing, improvise, arrange, compose, play percussion, double on other instruments, play our instruments in unusual ways by adding blue-tac, dusters, spoons..whatever it takes to create the sound in our imaginations.
Classical and folk music both bring with them their own stigmas and expectations. We perform at world, art, classical and folk music festivals, from the Albert Hall in the BBC Proms, to a muddy field at Cambridge Folk Festival. We were given advice from day one to create music that we love and worry about the genre later, not letting anyone box us in. Forgetting genre and embracing quality, collaboration and reinvention is a positive for audiences, venues and programmers, exposing them to music they might not know they loved.