The Music Academy of Gauteng auditorium in Benoni hosted an Oral History and Memorial Lecture of the legendary and late Johnny Mekoa on 23 September, followed by a concert.
Etwatwa born and bred Ramakgobotla Mekoa, best known as Johnny, was a veteran South African trumpeter and music educator.
He developed a passion for jazz music at an early age and aspired to be a jazz musician. Johnny was denied an opportunity to study music during the apartheid regime but that did not discourage him from following his dreams. He played his horn in night clubs despite the difficulty and restrictive conditions under which black musicians were forced to operate.
According to Times Live, Johnny almost went into exile in 1962 but was persuaded by Caiphus Semenya to stay, and got involved in the Dorkay House Arts club.
In the early years of his career, he played for audiences at night clubs across Johannesburg. His ambition to study music only materialised when he was 41. In 1991, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Natal. He then obtained a Fulbright Scholarship to study a master’s degree in music at the University of Indiana in the US.
In 1994, Johnny returned to South Africa and established the Music Academy of Gauteng. He also served on the Unisa Music Examination Board and helped establish the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival. Johnny sadly passed on at his home in Crystal Park on the 4 July 2017 where he was staying with his family.