South African Music Awards turn 21 and are going back to the future

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Twenty-one represents change. The transition from childhood to adulthood; a chance to do things differently. It marks a point where the influence of the legacy that came before creates the legends of tomorrow. The Annual South African Music Awards celebrate their 21st birthday this year by doing just that: learning from the past to inform a bright new future.

You may have seen the #XXI going around on social networks, with well-known personalities and ordinary South Africans talking about “When I was #XXI” or “Things to do at #XXI”, and wondered what in the world this #XXI thing is.

XXI represents the number 21 in Roman numerals – and is the number of years the South African Music Awards have been a fixture on the local entertainment scene. Now, as they come of age, the XXI social media campaign highlights the South African Music Awards as distinctive and standing alone with no peer. As a single symbol, The XXI encompasses the notion of “Legacy to Future”.

“The South African Music Awards turn XXI this year, a milestone that strikes a chord and resonates with us all. The continuous year on year growth, support and popularity has contributed to the improvement in the quality of participants and overall industry growth. The momentum leading to up to SAMA XXI is reflective of the high standards built over the years and achievements of all nominees,” said Mika Chauke, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Relations

The #XXI campaign has already attracted an enthusiastic response on Instagram, with celebs and ordinary people posting their nostalgic memories of when they were 21 and nominating others to do the same.
Author and columnist Khaya Dlanga posted a photo of his 21-year-old dreadlocked self, recalling that he was working as a waiter at the time but kept a journal that he still quotes from – and that he dated a white girl and they would often be subject to racial slurs.

Sharing a photo of her smiling self being capped, TV presenter Hulisani Ravele said she graduated from the University of Johannesburg with a BCom in Marketing Management when she was 21. “Education has always been very important to my family and graduating was the best gift I could’ve given my parents in my 21st year.”

For hip-hop musician Khuli Chana, 21 marked a turning point in his life: “When I was #XXI I was thinking about entering the game. Music was in my blood but I never knew it would be my career. At 21 the seed for my love of music grew stronger…”

It was a similar awakening for J’Something from Mi Casa: “When I was #XXI I had this dream of being a musician … Of being someone that would use the tool of music to change and influence the youth of the world. Now with Mi Casa I have the privilege of doing so every day…”

Radio and television presenter Elana Afrika was an actress as the time. Posting a photo from a play she appeared in, she wrote: “When I was #XXI… Being on stage with your pyjamas was like being naked in a magazine!”

Kahn Morbee of The Parlotones unearthed an old photo of himself, sporting a head of thick curly locks and wearing rugby kit: “When I was #XXI I played rugby in Northern Ireland for Ards Rugby Club,” he related.

It was a poignant memory for broadcaster Azania Mosaka, who posted a picture of her infant daughter from 1998. “When I was 21 I came back from three years spent in London. I came back with a little bundle of joy who is now 16 years old. She was by far the biggest highlight of my 21st year. I was both scared and excited to be her mom.”

Fellow media personality Melanie Bala has some fond memories of that time, posting a photo of her fresh-faced self rocking a bobbed hairstyle: “When I was #XXI … I’d just given up on my dream of becoming a lawyer … I’d been hosting a new music show called Studio Mix for about six months. We replaced Pick a Tune. I shared a flat in Yeoville with a friend and was trying to find my way around Jozi (literally and figuratively).”

These intimate snapshots of days past, says Refiloe Ramogase, the newly elected chairperson of the South African Music Awards, confirm that being XXI is milestone that strikes a chord with everyone.

“The South African Music Awards turn XXI – the very same age as our cherished post-emancipated rainbow nation, South Africa” he says.

“This milestone creates the opportunity for reflection on where the local music industry is as whole and how far our legacy has come, while shining a bold spotlight on where music is headed in this country. The awards themselves have a solid and respected heritage, and are looking to the future to build on this proud legacy with a renewed youthful vibrancy.”

Join the conversation on social media – rewind back (or fast forward) to being 21 and share your thoughts, memories and ambitions by using the #XXI hashtag. More details on the 21st edition of the Annual South African Music Awards will be announced shortly.

The SAMA XXI nominees will be announced on Thursday, 12 March 2015.

Don’t miss the Kia Record of the Year Nominees announcement on Friday, 13 March on Live Amp, SABC 1 at 21:00 sharp

• The annual South African Music Awards are organised by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).
Social media links for SAMA XXI:
Twitter: @TheSamas
Instagram: @SAmusicawards
Hashtag: #SAMAXXI

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