Billy Monama – The GrazRoots “Geleza Tour” Project featuring Themba Mokoena

Durban UKZN: Tuesday 16th May – 10am
Durban The Chairman: Saturday 20th May – 10pm
Durban Mamas Jazz Restaurant: Sunday 21st May – 8.30pm
In association with Concerts SA, guitar maestro Billy Monama invites legendary Themba Mokoena showcase nationally the GrazRoots “Geleza Tour” Project.
The young luminary and the elder legend raise awareness on indigenous music heritage with workshops and performances across the country.
The GrazRoots “Geleza Tour” Project is a live music educational project inspired by the lack of musical art form that kept the people singing through the difficult socio-political times in the history of South Africa. The mandate of the project is to conduct workshops and master classes at music schools followed by collaborative performances with the musicians designated cities. The objective of the Geleza Tour is set purely in documenting our own history for generations to come to preserve a disappearing cultural legacy.
Project founder and leader Billy Monama says: “I am teaming up with the legendary guitarist Mr Themba Mokoena to introduce South African guitar styles in music schools. The GrazRoots “Geleza Tour” Project brings an educational program in a format of master classes and workshops in music schools across the country, this will give ammunition to our music students (composers and arrangers) to develop a writing ‘voice’ that speaks to our history and our heritage as we map out our identity as a nation.”
Revisiting old South African classics and celebrating past South African composers and musicians, the GrazRoots Project sets out to revive the history and re-connect us with our South African musical heritage in order to give birth to a new soundtrack that will carry us into the Future, as a Nation. Research conducted by Billy Monama showed how the legacy of our uniquely South African guitar styles was fast disappearing. Not only the voice of the guitar that was dying away, but a whole generation of music culture and lifestyle stood a chance to be completely wiped out; mbaqanga, mgqashiyo, maskandi, African jazz and more.
Billy Monama began his journey with the guitar in his hometown of Mokopane, Mahwelereng in the Northern Province of South Africa. The childhood soundtrack that combined traditional ethnic sounds and African gospel and jazz is what inspired the young man who has now become a force to be reckoned with in the professional music scene. Monama spent time at the Central Johannesburg College studying music theory, harmony and ensemble work. He also researched and transcribed guitar masters such as Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow, Marks Mankwane, Jimmy Dludlu and many other musicians. Monama now leads his own band that performs his own compositions and arrangements.
Monama has become one of the highly sought-after guitarists, working with artists that include Themba Mkhize, Abdullah Ibrahim, Andile Yenana, Sibongile Khumalo, Thandiswa Mazwai, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, Mbongeni Ngema and Dorothy Masuku. Monama’s music arranging skills have also spilled into the dance and movement industry, as he has repeatedly been Musical Director on productions by the internationally acclaimed Vuyani Dance Company. In 2016 Monama conceived, founded and directed the GrazRoots Project. Monama sees himself as part of the new generation of South African musicians that want to take music of the African continent to greater heights.
Hailing from Pietermaritzburg, Themba Mokoena is often referred to as an ‘institution’ of South African guitar styles. He initially learned from his older brother, Jotang “Joko Tea” Mokoena. Themba was also highly inspired by jazz giant Wes Montgomery. In the 1960’s he was part of the generation of musicians that developed the sound of marabi and African jazz. After moving to Johannesburg in 1972 with the band Durban Expressions, he worked with successful bands of the time such as Gibson Kente, Jacob “Mpharanyana” Radebe, The Peddlers and performed a lot at the then famous Soweto club, The Pelican. He played guitar on many top recordings under Mavuthela Records, a black subsidiary of Gallo Records that recorded great and influential artists like West Nkosi, Makgona Tsohle Band, Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens and many more. Themba Mokoena is still active today, performing and recording locally and internationally with different projects, mainly with songstress Sibongile Khumalo.
Billy Monama – The GrazRoots “Geleza Tour” Project featuring Themba Mokoena is supported by Concerts SA through the Music Mobility Fund, a funding mechanism which offers opportunities for South African musicians to undertake live music tours.
Concerts SA is a joint South African/Norwegian live music development project housed within the SAMRO Foundation. Concerts SA receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO, the SAMRO Foundation and Concerts Norway. Working with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, and providing support to the sector through research and skills development for music professionals, the project aims to build a vibrant and viable live music circuit in southern Africa. It also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools. For more information please visit our website, follow @ConcertsSA on Twitter at or like us on Facebook at
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Events Listing
Pretoria – University of Pretoria
Tuesday 9th May – 1.30pm – No cover charge (students only)
Address: Musaion, Hatfield Campus, Lynnwood Road, Pretoria
Bookings: 073 823 8885 /
Johannesburg – Central Johannesburg College
Friday 12th May – Time TBC – No cover charge (students only)
Address: 5 Ubla Avenue, Parktown, Johannesburg
Bookings: 073 823 8885 /
Durban – UKZN
Tuesday 16th May – 10am – No cover charge (students only)
Address: King George V Ave, Glenwood, Durban
Bookings: 073 823 8885 /
Durban – The Chairman
Saturday 20th May – 10pm – R 150
Address: 146 Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Point, Durban
Bookings: 079 753 6313 /
Durban – Mamas Jazz Restaurant
Sunday 21st May – 8.30pm – Price TBC
Address: 210 Northway Drive, Umhlanga Rocks, Durban North
Bookings: 076 195 4630 /
*More dates for performances and workshops to be announced soon.

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