iThongo (“ee-tohn-goh”) is a world music fusion band from Cape Town, performing a crossover of Irish, African and South American traditional music on guitar, marimba, pennywhistle, skin drums mbira and violin. In 2017, their debut EP ‘Afroceltica’ was released via HDE. Members include Annette ‘Tink’ Roos (pennywhistle), Kwanele Maloyi (marimba, drums, sax) and John Bartmann (guitar, violin, drums, mbira), all current and former street buskers. The seeds of their formation were sown at the 2015 Night of the Buskers performance, supported by the V&A Waterfront.
Kwanele Maloyi has performed vocals, marimba, percussion and saxophone for some South African luminaries, including President Jacob Zuma and Western Cape Premiere Helen Zille. His passionate and skilled performances in the iKamva (Future) Marimba band at the V&A Waterfront has left thousands of visitors to Cape Town smiling and demonstrated the power of traditional African instrumentation to move audiences.
John Bartmann is a versatile guitarist and violinist with a colourful background in jazz, rock, electronic and folk music. He regularly hosts music industry education workshops in the townships of Cape Town. His composition work includes licensing deals with Wagram Records (France), theatre companies funded by the UK Arts Council, DNA Musik (Germany) and the South African Broadcasting Commission.
While Tink holds a Bachelors’ degree in piano performance, it was during her time travelling around England with her pennywhistle that she discovered the universally recognized joy that Irish traditional music carries. On her return to South Africa, she joined the fantasy rock band Myddle Earth, during which time she performed at the annual Knysna Celtic Music Festival in 2015 and 2016. Joined by John Bartmann, they have also performed at the Irish South African Society events, the Rotary Club International’s Celtic, Scottish and Irish fundraisers, the Hout Bay Harbour Market, the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed launch, the Western Cape Music Industry Commission events and more.
Of their 2017 release ‘Afroceltica’, the band says, “We all have music in our hearts, and with Afroceltica, we were inspired to create something that could be appreciated by everyone from the townships to the towers. It’s the job of artists to change the world. That’s why it’s called world music!”