I spent the weekend in Cape Town enjoying Table Mountain and favorite places like Alexander Theatre. Guitarist and South African Music Awards nominee James Grace was performing at the Alexander. Although I’d never heard his music, a little research made me curious, so I booked the performance – glad I did!
Only after committing and making reservations in Cape Town did I realize August 11 – 12 was Hermanus Wine and Food Festival weekend – sorry to have missed it!
Creative laid-back Alexander is a favorite small venue in Cape Town, but this was the first non-theatre performance I’ve attended there. My last visit was in October 2016 for a performance of The Emissary, a gripping two-actor play written and directed by South African playwright Louis Viljoen.
James Grace has appeared at the Alexander many times, including performing his Guitar Hero shows. His current performance celebrates the September 2017 launch of his sixth album, Chilled, and ten years of his independently owned record label, Stringwise Records.
“Breaking with tradition from his previous five solo albums consisting largely of music for classical guitar, Chilled features Grace’s own unique arrangements of songs by artists including The Beatles, Eric Clapton, Jesse Harris, Carol King, and Billy Joel.”
The very handsome Grace has a shy but endearing stage presence. Between brilliantly performed songs, he interacted with the audience providing insight into his successful music career, life, and artists he admires, including John Denver and James Taylor.
It’s easy to see why he’s one of South Africa’s leading concert artists. He has an impressive background and clearly “knows his stuff”. Some of his many awards include:
- KANNA Award winner for Best Male Artist at the 2010 ABSA KKNK
- KykNET Fiesta winner
- Appearances with the Free State Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras including Cape Town, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Johannesburg, and Gauteng
- Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts
- Joined Jonathan Crossley to give the South African première of Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto Madrigal for two guitars with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Alessandro Crudele
Grace is a regular performer at arts festivals and concert series throughout South Africa, Europe, and the U.A.E. He was Born in England and began playing the guitar when he was seven. His family moved to South Africa when he was ten where he studied with the late Dietrich Wagner, Professor of Music at Stellenbosch University, and at the Royal College of Music in London.
“Chilled introduces a South American element with a medley of original compositions and arrangements by Brazilian guitar maestro Marco Pereira.”
“After spending two years in Doha, in the Arabian State of Qatar where he taught guitar at an International Music Centre, James returned to South Africa to become Head of Classical Guitar Studies at the University of Cape Town’s College of Music.”
He works with other talented artists on a variety of projects. The James Grace performance was an evening well spent!