Winter Jazz Festival

Winter Jazz Festival is a Jazz extravaganza held annually in Zimbabwe with the aim of promoting as well developing jazz music in the country. The event is also graced by other music geniuses from other genres like Winky D and Sulumani Chimbetu


The Winter Jazz Festival was created by was created by Thamie Msimanga, Sam Mataure and Josh Hozheri in 1999 and was initially held at Sports Diner International before moving to Jazz 105. One of the founders Josh Hozheri noted that the idea behind Winter Jazz Festival was:

To bring the jazz family (the artists and the connoisseurs) together and to develop artists and the genre in general.[1]

Festival Themes

The festival has been run under various themes since its inception in 1999. The themes are meant to capture significant aspects in jazz music in Zimbabwe. Some of the themes that have been used in previous jazz festivals include "Celebrating our own jazz", "Jazz is not a state of mind, it is a fact of life" and "Back to township jazz".[2]

Points of Friction

The major point of friction surrounding the Winter Jazz Festival is that jazz purists believe that the festival is being hijacked by non jazz artistes who end up headlining a festival whose genre they do not specialise in. Key stakeholders of the event however believe that other artistes from various genres should also be roped in to spice up the event and make it commercially viable because jazz is not for the masses.[3]

Successes of the Festival

Regardless of the limited funding the festival gets from the corporate world and the small audience the genre commands in Zimbabwe, the organisers of the event managed to bring some regionally and internationally acclaimed jazz artists ranging from Ringo Mandlingozi, Max Vidima, Amanda e la Banda, Raffaele Casarano and the Tinissima Quartet from Italy. These artistes have performed at the festival over the years and have also brought an international feel to the fete. The participation of these artistes at the festival also gives the local jazz audience a chance to taste other brands of the genre.[4] Prominent local artists like Oliver Mtukudzi, Prudence Katomeni Mbofana, Dudu Manhenga have also become regular crowd pullers to the event. Jah Prayzah, Winky D, Sulumani Chimbetu among others form the non jazz group of artistes who also perform at the festival.

The festival has also been very successful in helping budding artistes to launch their careers as well as give them a platform from which they can interact with other players in the industry both from within and outside Africa. Artistes such as Ammara Brown, Jah Prayzah and Que Montana were all give a chance to showcase their musical skills at the event. The event has also been linked with school jazz bands in which the participating schools are also lined up to grace the event. Prince Edward Jazz band and Churchill Boys High have become regular performers at the annual event. This has allowed aspiring young jazz artists to nature their talents on renowned platforms like the Winter Jazz Festival.


The festival has largely been crippled by the lack of funding which has often resulted in the low turnout of fans due to poor advertising and lack of publicity. This has had a negative impact on the festival, the 2012 edition of the festival only had Max Vidima as the only foreign based artiste.

Social Responsibility

In a bid to get people to donate to the less privileged, one of the organisers of the event Josh Hozheri implored those who came to the 2014 edition of the festival to bring something to donate to those in need during winter.

Everyone has a jacket or some other warm clothing they no longer need somewhere in their wardrobe. Just bring it to any of the venues where the festival will be and give it to our agents there. Your donation can make a huge difference in someone’s life[5]


  1. Munya Simango, All that jazz: One-on-one with Josh Hozheri, News Day, Published: March 31, 2012, Retrieved: June 27, 2014
  2. Winter Jazz festival: A local affair The Standard, Published: July 2, 2011, Retrieved: June 27, 2014
  3. Vasco Chaya Winter Jazz festival beckons Daily News, Published: 25 June 2014, Retrieved: June 27, 2014
  4. , All that jazz: A great year for jazz Daily News, Published: December 30, 2011, Retrieved: June 27, 2014
  5. Mtandazo Dube, Tuku headlines Winter Jazz Festival, The Sunday Mail, Published: June 22, 2014, Retrieved: June 27, 2014