Echoes of Sophiatown: Preserve, Revive and Celebrate.

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With so much history, knowledge and culture at stake, the the aim of the Echoes project is to pay tribute to the musicians, dancers, and other South Africans who were part of the swing era, and ensure that their legacy lives on for a new audience of jazz lovers, history buffs, cultural aficionados, and swing dancers. 

As an organisation dedicated to promoting swing music, dancing, and culture in the region, Cape Town Swing endeavours to do this by reviving the music, documenting the stories that accompany it, and incorporating other contemporary art forms that complete the picture, such as dance styles, photography, visual art, and literature.

What the project is about.

Echoes of Sopiatown is a transcription project to revive, transcribe and preserve the unique South African swing music from the 1930s-50s. Funded on Indiegogo by swing music enthusiasts around the world, the project concluded its first chapter in 2019 with 40 transcriptions and a studio recording with the Pebble Shakers, featuring covers of 12 original South African tunes from the Sophiatown heyday.

March 2019 marked our first project milestone, aimed at making a collection of South African swing songs available to the local and international community to listen to, and dance along with. After months of music transcriptions, song translations, band practices, research sessions, and design work, the culmination of this campaign was finally showcased at the Echoes of Sophiatown album launch party on 23rd March 2019 at the District 6 Museum. As the main event for Mother City Hop (Cape Town Swing’s annual international swing dance festival), this party marked the official debut of the revived South African swing music to both the international swing dance community and the local South African community.

It’s not over!

We consider Echoes of Sophiatown to be an ongoing project which we hope will grow and expand as we learn more and connect with more people and organisations who share our passion for cultural preservation. Watch this space for the next chapter!  

About the Author

Sarah Boyd

Sarah Boyd is a teacher at Cape Town Swing and an organiser on the Echoes of Sophiatown project. Sarah learned to Lindy Hop in 2008 with RPI Lindy at her alma mater in Troy, New York, and has been swinging out ever since.

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