It was almost over before it had even started. When reading all the e-mails concerning visa issues and travel preparations between Josh Pule (Africappella’s founder and band leader) and Florian Städtler (Acappellazone CEO) nobody would have thought that in about two weeks’ time a memorable journey between two cultures would take place. Let alone, that within this trip the South African perspective of Germans and also the German perspective of South Africans would be fundamentally changed to the both side’s astonishment.
In many aspects the arrival of Africappella must have been a shocking experience. In – for South African terms – freezing cold 10°C the six members disembarked in Frankfurt after a 16-hours flight. Acappellazone’s booker and artist manager Oliver Adamczyk picked the group up at Frankfurt Airport and brought them down to Freiburg. The German “Autobahn” probably was the next shocking experience. Two of the group had to take the German high speed train ICE (Intercity Express) which brought the next shock for our South African friends: German train ticket prices.
While the rest of the Acappellazone team was preparing for the “Internationale Kulturbörse Freiburg 2016” one of the biggest promoter and artist fairs in Germany the group arrived. The first gig on this fair was already scheduled on the next day. This is possibly the toughest crowd in whole Germany (70% promoters and other music business professionals) – so the pressure was on right from the beginning. In a double show of roughly 30 minutes Africappella were the first to perform before the second act of the day came on: Italy’s vocal music stars Cluster from Genova. It was a remarkable double bill under challenging conditions in which a first glimpse of that unique African vocal music spirit started to spread.
Later that day the whole team was scheduled to have a first get-to-know dinner at a close by restaurant. It became clear very quickly that this special group of people fit in perfectly with our team. Within two hours the remaining days of the group’s stay was planned out in detail. The program included travels through the world famous Black Forest, sightseeing tours through Freiburg and dinner parties.
However, even though the group looked desperately for their first ever snow experience they couldn’t make out one bit of white landscape. Germany was enduring one of the warmest winters of the last decade. It wasn’t until their next concert in Herdwangen when they finally saw and touched snow for the very first time. And it wasn’t just snow. Robert Franz, tour manager and sound engineer with Acappellazone drove the group into the heart of the Black Forest when a sudden snow storm hit South-West Germany. But while Robert was freaking out and desperately tried to get the group to their destination in one piece, Africappella had a very different perspective on the situation. The results were several snowball fights and giant snow angel marks on the side of the road. Clearly, it’s all a matter of perspective.
When they had arrived in the small town of Herdwangen, all thoughts of the winterly cold were melted away by the warmth and hearty atmosphere that arose between the audience and Africappella. In the end, several cheering spectators climbed the stage, gave hugs to the band members and handed over flowers. For sure one of the lasting memories of Africappella’s first trip to Germany, just as special as discovering Feierling’s “Brunhilde” dark beer and enjoying delicious homemade Mexican food.
The farewells were spoken with the certainty that this must not be the last time that we welcomed these great singers and wonderful people here in Germany. As a special souvenir they got something for their playful spirits and their children back at home as well.
Farewell, Africappella. And see you soon in Germany and many other European countries.
Michel Peters is a booker and project manager at the Acappellazone headquarters in Freiburg, Germany. He has sung with Jazzchor Freiburg, is a big football fan and a “totally together guy”. (Florian Städtler)
You can book Africappella for future tours via Acappellazone, Oliver Adamczyk, firstname.lastname@example.org, phone +49 621 40 76 01. You can find more information about the group by clicking on this link or going to their website www.africappella.com.