Oscars Honor Late South African Jazz Legend Jonas Gwangwa

Written by on 07/10/2022

Late South African trombonist Jonas Gwangwa‘s star continues to shine, as The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science’s program in his honor announces its inaugural participants. In association with Mercury Studios, the Jonas Gwangwa Music Composition Initiative is a UK-based opportunity for Black musicians to explore making music for film, and participants Peter Edwards and Oleta Haffner have been selected to get the party started.

The twelve-month career development program was created for Black British musicians specifically, as the program hopes to broaden representation within the world of film music composition. Edwards and Haffner were celebrated at London’s iconic Abbey Road Studios (think the Beatles) this week, as excitement for the career-changing opportunity made waves. The initiative was announced earlier this year and organizers made its intentions clear from the get-go. UK-based Academy members Gary Yershon, Misan Sagay, and Nainita Desai said in a July statement, “This initiative seeks to correct an imbalance. In contrast to the major contributions Black musicians are making to the music industry in the U.K., their presence in the U.K. film industry is significantly lacking.”

“Through this program”, they continued, “We seek to build community amongst Black artists in the U.K. by highlighting opportunities to bridge film and music careers.” The program made in honor of the late South African musician, producer, and composer aims to provide real-world experience to composers who deserve exposure.

Gwangwa was a prominent anti-apartheid activist, whose talents saw him perform for audiences all over the world. The Soweto-born star received Oscar nominations for Original Score and Original Song for his work with George Fenton, on the 1987 box-office hit Cry Freedom.

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