Pioneering cellist Abel Selaocoe inspires Pan-African unity with Songs of Liberation

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      When one thinks of famous cellists, names like Yo-Yo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Pablo Casals come to mind. But there's a young South African cellist, Abel Selaocoe, who's shaking up the status quo.

      This is a result of the U.K.-based musician's imaginative, genre-spanning performances that weave together African rhythms, explosive improvisation, and engaging vocal performances.

      On November 27, UBC's Chan Centre for the Performing Arts will present a digital production of Selaocoe's Songs of Liberation.

      The Manchester Royal Northern College of Music grad created this to offer homage to those who helped Black South Africans emerge from the horrors of apartheid.

      According to the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts website, Songs of Liberation "links Western and African traditions, taking sonic influence from the zeze (Tanzanian harp), gonji (Ghanaian violin), and uhadi (South African overtone instrument)".

      Echoing Ghanaian independence leader Kwame Nkrumah, Selaocoe will highlight the elusive dream of a united Africa. As well, his show will touch upon the Black Consciousness movement advanced by South African intellectual Steve Bantu Biko, who was murdered while in police custody.

      In the video below, watch Selaocoe perform "Ka Bohaleng (On the Sharp Side)" with his band, Chesaba, and the Manchester Collective string players. The song is a tribute to mothers.

      Video: Abel Selaocoe's "Ka Bohaleng (On the Sharp Side)" demonstrates that he's no ordinary cellist.
      Manchester Collective