Vuma Levin has been described as a “virtuoso”. It’s a big designation to live up to, especially at such a young age, but so far the jazz artist has proven critics right.
First picking the guitar up at 14, Levin began an artistic journey that has seen him graduating from the prestigious Conservatorium van Amsterdam, being selected as a semifinalist at the Montreux Socar International Jazz Guitar competition in Switzerland, performing at some of the most sought-after venues and festivals in the world and releasing his fourth lead album to critical acclaim.
Along the way, he has performed with a slew of well-respected musicians, including Feya Faku, Herbie Tsoaeli, Nduduzo Makhathini and Kevin Davidson.
The son of a black Swati mother and a white South African father, Levin creates music that explores identity in the turmoil of post-apartheid South Africa.
This, he says, is relevant amid the cultural conversations the country, and the world, is having now “about what it means to be black … about the asymmetrical power relations that continue to plague our country; issues around race, around gender-based violence, around sexuality and nationality”.
As a teacher, Levin strives to provide the next generation of musicians with the tools they need “to empower themselves in an increasingly unforgiving labour market and world”.
“I want to help my students become the best version of themselves: to grow, remain inspired by life and to create,” he says.
Despite already coming a long way, it is this space for growth that Levin hopes to continue to find for himself. “I hope to find something outside of myself that I can use as the inspiration for my next work,” he says.