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Wynton Marsalis headlines Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg

August 23, 2011

The annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival in Johannesburg, South Africa, is just a few days away. The guest of honor at this year's event is Wynton Marsalis, an award-winning American jazz musician. He was the first jazz artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for his three-hour jazz oratorio "Blood on the Fields" that centers around American slavery.

Marsalis arrived in South Africa ahead of the festival to talk about his life and play a few songs at the Market Theater in Johannesburg. He was welcomed by famed South African singer Sibongile Khumalo, who called him a "cultural activist," according to The Associated Press. Marsalis spoke about his parents' struggle with segregation in Louisiana and how it influenced his optimistic attitude.

South African actor and director John Kani responded, telling Marsalis that the South African people survived the struggle against apartheid with optimism as well. He also pointed out that Marsalis' visit clearly illuminated a rising love of jazz in South Africa.

Marsalis also gave his audience a taste of his trumpeting skills before he will perform a full set at the Joy of Jazz on August 25. People who are not in Johannesburg can use phone cards to make calls to South Africa to hear all about the three-day music festival. 

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