I was excited this morning upon reading that Kyle Shepherd, the Cape Town-based piano virtuoso, had won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz. Like most information, I saw the news on social media – facebook to be precise. “There’s something special about his music and it has always appealed to me. 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz”, wrote a particular Tebogo Segola on the Esoteric Rendezvous page.
I headed to Google afterwards to verify this, which is when I stumbled upon the video above. Shepherd explains that he moved around a lot in his childhood, adding a cheeky “the one advantage of that is that I’m really good with directions in Cape Town!” The rest of the story is worth hearing, like his mother’s friends at choir practice foretelling his destiny (“that child’s gonna be a musician”). We also discover that it was the godfather Abdullah Ibrahim who made Kyle decide to become a pianist.
This is a well-deserved nod on a lot of levels. Not only is it long-overdue, but it captures the moment by paying homage to an artist who has been busy for the past year-and-a-half. Eversince launching his third album, “South African History !X“, Kyle has embarked on noteworthy overseas tours with both his trio, and as a solo pianist. He’s recently toured South Africa and Swaziland with a Swiss-South African band featuring Shane Cooper and Kesivan Naidoo – both of whom are previous recipients of the award, as well as arranging music for the show Xamissa which just returned from tour.