Judy Roberson interviews the remarkable John Ellis on the SA & Indie Music Zone.
The ex-Tree63 front-man has been on an extended hiatus from music since 2015, and has not written or released new music since the delayed releases of “Tells” and “Growing Silent”, his two 2017 albums which both contained older unreleased material.
He released his latest album, “Native” on Freedom Day 2022. On it he poses the pertinent question “What does it mean to suggest that I am an ‘African’?
“Native” is the fifth his full-length studio album from South African singer-songwriter. It is an album of modern South African blues songs. Inspired by some of the experiments conducted during the 2011 recording of his “Rural” album, John recorded “Native” with a wide variety of South African musical collaborators. The songs draw on traditional early blues forms for their inspiration and feature some of the traditional sounds of South African music.
John’s appetite for the greater good and his undeniable musical genius come together in a work that I believe, in time, will be seen as an important contribution to both the arts and the art of reconciliation.
The album is an arresting exploration of the tonal and narrative power of traditional African musical elements used in the performance of a form of music borne of the involuntary westernization of Africans and long since appropriated by the West. In this sense it’s an anthropological work, a metaphor for what things separated by time and space become, and the commonalities that remain.
For more information about the man and his music, please visit his Facebook Page @johnellisongs