Solo Acoustic Guitarist | African and Contemporary | Composer and Performer

March Mailing List Letter

Just after I sent this to subscribers of my mailing list I found out that One Night on Earth has been nominated for a SAMA Award…

Dear Friends

It seems that the album we made together, me with many hours of playing and transcribing Toumani’s beautiful music, and you with your support and contributions and encouragement, has become an ambassador for me, getting my music into places I would not have imagined.

The most recent development is my booking for a double bill gig with none other than classical guitar’s most legendary exponent, John Williams. I sent his agent a copy of the CD a few weeks back and last week got an email with this title:

Performing with John Williams at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Just the title took some processing. The content made us do a few little dances this side. So if you’re in London next year in March be sure to make a turn at Shakespeare’s Globe….it will be the first time I’ll get to see John Williams live!

But my other news is equally exciting:

UK’s highly respected world music magazine, Songlines, has selected One Night on Earth as one of ten Top of the World albums. This selection is made from approximately 600 albums sent for review each month. This is already a high honour for a South African musician, but Songlines went one better and chose One Night on Earth as one of the three albums given to new subscribers of the magazine. Here’s a few words from their review:

“Gripper has cracked it…his playing has a depthless beauty, which does full justice to the complexity of Toumani’s compositions. To do so without any hint of the music being dumbed down is a staggering achievement on solo guitar…Gripper’s record genuinely complements Toumani’s music, and the more resonant sonorities of the guitar give the record its own baroque attraction…Gripper’s extensive liner notes are a tour de force, too – it’s one of the most perceptive and insightful pieces ever written about the kora and the compositional qualities of Toumani’s unique music.” [Nigel Williamson, Songlines Magazine] Read the full review here:

Richard Nwamba, South Africa’s own guru of African music, has also honoured One Night on Earth by dedicating a full hour to it on his show, The African Connection, on SAFM, as well as writing a feature on it for Sawabona, South African Airway’s inflight magazine (with a readership of 700 000 people).

There will also be a double page feature, with musings on African Classical Music, in next month’s Classic Feel Magazine, a South African glossy dedicated to classical music.


This last weekend I played my most fun gig of the year at The Flamjangled Tea Party, an eccentric three-day festival just outside Cape Town. What a beautiful event and what a pleasure to make a noise on a beautiful outdoor stage to a crowd who was totally there with me.

Next month I will be in Sweden to participate in an exhibition with Finnish artist Jani Riscica curated by Botkyrka Kunsthall. I will visit a new friend in Norway, guitarist Andreas Aase, to play some concerts and present workshops and to experiment with a possible recording collaboration for the US later in the year (extreme North meets extreme South…). And I will go to Ireland to visit my very good friend, 8-string guitarist Redmond O’Toole to present a day long workshop to music teachers on my Montessori Guitar Method (listen to this crazy Irishman play Bach on the same kind of upright 8-string I used for my first recording).

When I return to SA I will present my teaching method at the South African Montessori Association’s annual conference.

Another great and unexpected development is my first visit to North America: in September this year I will play at the prestigious Ellnora Guitar Festival at the Krannert Centre for the Performing Arts (one of the biggest centres for performing arts in North America). With the help of a new agent in North America it looks like some more dates will follow for a larger tour…hold thumbs.

I had an idea seven months ago to record this wonderful Malian music by Toumani Diabaté. I had no budget and a desire not to go into debt to release a new album. I wrote to you all and within a week I had enough money for the downpayment of the studio fees. By the time I returned home from making the recording I had the money for the full recording. When the album went up on for a “price of your choosing” your generosity literally blew me away. And it proved once again that people will pay for music if you let them, that you don’t have to force them.

If you still need a copy head off to (download a digital copy for a price of your choosing or order a physical copy for $14) or go down to the African Music Store in Longstreet, Cape Town, who have been selling the album “like hotcakes.”

Love to you all,


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