Band Aid for Ameen, The Rappin Donkey FeaturedWritten by Ryan Swano
It is seldom that an entertainer, over a span of decades, continues to capture the imaginations of not only audiences but also that of other entertainers in a diverse variety of fields and still somehow continues to remain relevant while always evolving.
Not only was and is the originator of the Bruin Man Funk continually evolving but by all accounts Ameen Levy still manages to stick to his core identity as an artist, an entertainer and more importantly, as a person.
Sadly Ameen Levy and his family were struck by the devastating tragedy of losing their home in a fire on 22 September 2021. To help them through this difficult period, and help get the Ameen Levy Foundation back up and running, Band Aid along with Uncle Cal and P-Fore Online are hosting a benefit event for the entertainer who has not only worked with, influenced and paved the way for so many of his contemporaries and those young artists who he has given a platform to, but who has also given joy to audiences and fans all over the country.
On Wednesday 3 November P-Fore Online & Band Aid SA along with a line-up of musicians and DJ’s will be hosting a special edition of Uncle Cal’s very popular Midweek Jazz Matazz show to be hosted by P-fore Online in honour of one of the original huisjol (house party) DJ's which promises to be epic and we have all the details further below.
Calvin Peters of P-fore Online is one of entertainers and personal friends of Ameen Levy who have been rallying around his plight since the moment news of the fire reached them.
A live Facebook video made by a friend and neighbour while the fire was still raging went viral and news travelled fast but Ameen says that there are still lots of speculation and misconceptions around what really happened.
Band Aid for Entertainers in Need
It is no secret that when entertainers such as musicians, singers, rappers, comedians, DJ's, arts administrators, technical & backstage crew, etc suffer any form of loss of income or are struck by tragedy such as severe illness, hospitalisation or as in Ameen's case losing their home in a fire, many of them unfortunately, due to the erratic nature of their income streams do not always have the financial backing to see them through their situations.
It is also sadly true that when an entertainer passes away, their families are often times burdened with issues of funeral cover that may have lapsed due to the entertainer having had no means to pay.
That plight of destitute entertainers has become manifold worse since we've been stuck in the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
Band Aid, run by entertainers and arts administrators, having been informally active for the past 15 years is now a fully registered Non-Profit which has the core aim of raising funds to alleviate the plight of entertainers in desperate need of financial assistance.
Band Aid has also expanded its mandate to assist community feeding schemes in the current socio-economic crisis we find ourselves in.
Band Aid's main form of fundraising which usually takes the form of Benefit Concerts has however taken a massive blow due to the pandemic lockdown.
Most alternative forms of fundraising are not quite as effective, but in partnering with P-Fore Online and using Uncle Cal’s access to streaming platforms, it is now possible to bring fundraising efforts onto people's smart devices and into their homes.
Teaming up with Uncle Cal and P-fore Online gives Band Aid access to the technology and expertise which make Live Stream and On-Air fundraising possible via pledge drive appeals and procuring donations in cash or kind for not only for those in the arts and entertainment sector but also for communities in need.
Lucky To Be Alive
Ameen recalls that fateful night: "The fire started with an electrical fault in the ceiling of my son and his wife's bedroom to which my granddaughter alerted my wife when she saw smoke coming from the ceiling. My son, his wife as well as my daughter were also in the house at the time."
"They all had thankfully made it out to safety but I was still trapped inside our bedroom. It was only through Divine Intervention and a split second decision to not head for the shortcut through our kitchen that I made it out of the house."
"Closing the door that links a shortcut from our bedroom to the kitchen, and grabbing something from a little toolbox I keep in the room to break out the middle window of our bedroom to get out of the house and over the fence through my neighbour's yard is what saved my life, otherwise you all would have been attending a funeral."
"The fire which starting in the ceiling rapidly spread throughout the house and we could just stand and watch as the house we have lived in for 37 years and all of our possessions we've accumulated was destroyed within a mere 20 minutes. We have lost everything we had."
"Many memories have been built in our home and it was a home away from home for all of the musicians and DJ's who over the years have walked through our doors."
'We are however blessed to have found temporary accommodation in a house belonging to my brother in law while we are working towards rebuilding our home."
Serving the Community
Ameen Levy's whole approach to dealing with this huge loss is nothing short of encouraging and is indicative of a man who evolves and adapts while remaining true to his identity.
Part of that identity is that he has always been on the forefront of not only helping to shape the careers of fellow entertainers but also in being of service to his community.
This is evident from the Ameen Levy Foundation he recently started during the pandemic lockdown in order to consolidate his community work.
Before you go "Oh no, not another artist with a soup kitchen", Ameen Levy has always been about direct assistance in practical and material ways whereby instead of simply dishing out food to random people standing in a queue, Ameen's aim is that people in his community can approach him directly for help with their immediate needs.
"Instead of having a soup kitchen, at the very least I just want to be able to give a decent meal to a hungry person when they knock on my door."
Though his foundation was only recently started, Ameen, his wife Marie and their family have for many years been a beacon of hope for others in need.
Ameen is looking forward to picking up the work of his foundation again as soon as he is back on his feet.
Band Aid believes that now is the time for the many entertainers whose careers and livelihoods have been touched by Ameen Levy, for the many community members whose lives have been improved through his help and for music lovers all over to give back to Ameen Levy and his family.
An Entertainer for All Seasons
With his illustrious career stretching way back to his childhood in the late 1960's and early 1970's Ameen Levy has always been on the cusp of something new but what audiences could always rely on is his core identity which uniquely captures his style for which in recent years he coined the term Bruin Man Funk.
His early roots in District 6, and moving to rural Boland at a very young age to be raised by his grandmother after his mom suffered long-term health issues, the musician and all-round entertainer who eventually many years later became known as The Rappin' Donkey, had already proven himself to be a talented guitarist and singer by the time he was 8 years old.
Recalling memories of the sacrifices his grandmother made in order for him to flourish, the young Ameen's biggest motivation was always to someday make his grandmother proud.
The first band which he became a member and lead singer of was called The Ohms and Ameen laughingly recalls that he was paid the grand sum of 50 cents for his first live performance and that in those years was a huge amount for a 13 year old.
Ameen then became a founder member of The Fireballs, a Paarl-based band that still exists to this day. He then started his own band called The Red Circle but he soon realised that being permanently part of a band was not for him.
From Backyard DJ to King of Clubs
It was around 1970 that Ameen got into what was becoming the latest fad and that was for people to book DJ's for backyard house parties, private functions and at events venues. The late 60's and early 70's also saw the rise of Discotheque Restaurants that were usually based at local hotels and inns.
The scene was however dominated by the huisjol (house party) with mobile DJ's and Ameen had his own outfit and crew called Rock Solid Mobile Disco. Ameen then started playing bigger venues like the Drakenstein Hotel and other disco venues in Paarl's fledgling night club scene.
In 1979 Rudolph Paulse who was at the time manager of the iconic Galaxy Nightclub in Athlone visited Paarl, sought out Ameen and invited him to participate in what would be Cape Town's first major DJ competition.
In those days rap was something only occasionally done by DJ’s. It was Ameen's rap skills that set him apart and saw him crowned as the winner of the Galaxy's DJ's competition.
Ameen's title opened up doors for him on a national level and soon he started travelling to Johannesburg and other cities taking up DJ residencies at some of the biggest clubs around the country.
Many of those all over the country but especially in Cape Town who are considered to be legendary club DJ's of the 1980's have all at some point either worked with Ameen or followed in Ameen's footsteps.
It was in the beginning of the 1990's that Ameen wanted to retire from DJ-ing and as a last hoorah found himself back in Paarl to handle the opening of Tiffany's which at the time was Paarl's biggest night club venue and setting the stage for Selwyn Bartlett to take over the reins from him.
"I was getting tired of the disco night club DJ life and didn’t want to end up a DJ in a club and having my kids dancing in that same club."
Ameen had found a new passion unrelated to music and that was as a Motor Spares Salesman at a major spares dealer in Paarl.
This was a job he would hold and excel in until his retirement in 2020, but taking up a job in motor spares was by far not the end of Ameen's career as an entertainer.
The Rappin’ Donkey
The passion for making music and entertaining audiences still kept flowing fiercely in Ameen Levy's veins and 1991 saw the advent of the Rappin' Donkey project.
Ameen started recording and performing original music as a solo artist as well as working in collaboration with other artists and producers.
Rappin' Donkey developed a distinct sound which included singing and rapping almost exclusively in Afrikaans with the music having a funky Ghoema flavour.
Ameen maintained that people from Coloured communities wanted Afrikaanse-musiek but they wanted it in a way that they could relate to it and not that which has been upheld as the standard for many decades on Afrikaans radio.
One of Rappin' Donkey's earliest hits, Ons Slaap Vanaand by Heidi, used the names of Afrikaans children’s TV characters in a fun sing-along chorus and with its amusing rap verses that intertwined their stories, made the song very popular much more with adults than it was with kids.
The Radio Show Host
In another turn in the evolution of Ameen Levy, it was in 2002 that he had his arm twisted into becoming the presenter of a 3 hour long Saturday night show on Radio KC in Paarl.
"Having had absolutely no experience in radio, it was a huge adjustment from being a club DJ to a radio presenter, but we eventually found our groove and for the 8 years I was doing the show, it became the most popular show on Radio KC."
The Funky Bruinou
Ameen Levy's career as musician continued to flourish as he released a string of hit albums over the years; nine solo albums under the name Rappin' Donkey and one collaboration album under the name Bras Vannie Boland with Ronnie Appollis of Worcester.
The pair also had national success with their hit single Kantienstraat.
With regular national and regional radio airplay and interviews and in later years having numerous TV appearances from eTV to kykNET, from programs like Musiek-Musiek to Maak 'n Las, Ameen's live shows have always been packed since his first Rappin' Donkey shows in 1991 that turned into a national tour in 1992.
Around 2012 Ameen decided to slow down his live performances and along with his producer Jerry Watt of the super group The Rockets, he would concentrate solely on being a recording artist.
His unique sound is what he eventfully called Bruin Man Funk and that is also the title of his last studio album released in 2019.
Join P-fore Online
On Wednesday 3 November 2021 from 7pm till 1Opm Band Aid in collaboration with Uncle Cal and P-fore Online brings you the Band Aid for Ameen Levy online event to honour and bring much needed aid to one of Cape Town's legendary original huisjol DJ's.
This special edition of Midweek Jazz Matazz has a really impressive line-up of artists and DJ’s including a Live Performance set by The Rockets and DJ sets by Selwyn Bartlett, DJ Keith, Uncle Cal as well as DJ Brian Bo Horne who was one of the very first DJ’s at Club Galaxy.
A definite highlight of the event will be a live performance by the main man himself, Ameen Levy along with his Bras Vannie Boland collaborator Ronnie Appollis.
Band Aid and Uncle Cal have partnered with the P-fore Online Live Music and DJ video streaming platform to bring the Band Aid for Ameen event to a screen on any device of your choice.
P-fore Online is an App hosted by SA Music Library which specialises in providing a digital platform for South African musicians and DJ’s to distribute their music and their videos and for hosting live performances.
Move the furniture out of the way. Clear out your backyard.
Plug in that Aux cable from your smart device and Turn The Volume Up Loud.
You can also watch it all live on your phone, tab, PC or Smart TV.
Put on Your Dancing Shoes & Pledge Those Funds.
WATCH the Rappin Donmkey Documentary
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