It’s impossible to think of contemporary jazz on the African continent without accounting for Standard Bank’s commitment to the music and the people who shape it. The bank has been focused on making progress real for musicians, cultural entrepreneurs and jazz lovers across the continent for the past 35 years. The world is better for it. Through a network of visionary sponsorship properties and partnerships, the group has been building itself into more than a bank.
Though much of the jazz activity is concentrated in South Africa - owing to Mzansi’s deep history of jazz - the bank has a growing jazz impact on the rest of the African continent.
In Ghana, where Standard Bank operates as Stanbic Bank, people enjoy jazz thanks to the Stanbic Ghana Jazz Festival which takes place in Accra. This musical journey began in 2014 andbrings world-class quality jazz concerts to serenade jazz lovers in West Africa. The festival provides a platform for both top-flight musicians and local icons to share the stage.
Further south in Lusaka, Zambia the annual Stanbic Music Festival has become another highlight of Standard Bank’s sponsorship portfolio on the continent.
The festival was launched in 2014 and has over the years featured the likes of Hugh Masekela, Oliver Mtukudzi, Zonke and a host of other internationally renowned local artists such as Pompi, Scarlet and James Sakala. One of the longest running and unique jazz festivals on the South African cultural calendar is the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), now in its 32nd year - and which the bank has been a partner of for the past 23 years.
This festival includes one of the biggest jazz development and education programmes on the continent – the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Festival. Annually it brings together over 350 students and 40 teachers from diverse backgrounds from across South Africa, with nearly 90 professional jazz musicians and educators. The shining jewel of the bank's jazz portfolio is the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (SBJOJ), now in its 22nd year. As Africa’s premier jazz festival, the SBJOJ attracts a patronage of over 30 000 jazz lovers to the Sandton Convention Center in the heart of Africa’s richest square mile.
Last but not least is the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards (SBYA) which the bank has been sponsoring for past 35 years. The awards honour outstanding young creatives, and since 2006 included a jazz category to honour exceptional young jazz musicians. (In the preceding years, jazz musicians were awarded in the same category as classical musicians). Through the SBYA, the bank has helped to actualize careers of musicians who’ve since become iconic cultural figures: Sibongile Kumalo, Andile Yenana, Tutu Puoane and many others have had their progress made real by this legacy of sponsorship.