Marleze Smit - Yemanya

Marleze Smit is the Founder of YEMANYA and she started this Groovy Glam Classic Project in 2010/11.

Marleze Smit is a Cape Town Pianist who spent her earlier years competing and performing along with orchestras in a highly competitive environment.

After receiving much positive feedback for her solo performances at upmarket venues around Cape Town, like The Vineyard hotel, the Arabella Westin Grand, Mount Nelson, Ellerman house , Spier wine farm, Table Bay hotel in the Waterfront, the Bay hotel in Campsbay, to mention a few. She took on a new project in 2010 – Yemanya and released their 1st album , Two Roads , in 2011.

Since then, The 5 piece group has been performing at festivals , weddings and corporate functions and also gradually started performing as a 2/3 piece group with singer, pianist & violinist , while they’ve been performing at the well-known Mondiall restaurant in Cape Town waterfront in 2016, 2017 & 2018.

Drawing inspiration from music from all over the world, Buddha Bar, Cafe Delmar, etc. – the music crosses genres of classical, pop, jazz, Latin & lounge – to appeal to a broad audience (conservatives and liberals alike).

Yemanya is an around the world musical adventure! Featuring 2/3/5 musicians, Yemanya performs its wildly diverse repertoire in different languages and different styles of music from different parts of the world.

A pianist, drummer, marimba player, violinist and cellist creates an aural composition unique to Yemanya. The idea of combining her passion for the classical piano along with violin, cello and drums came to her. She had a desire to make classical music more accessible to everyone and to create a groovy, global, glamorous fusion with touches of African influences.  French, Spanish and Argentinian melodies complemented by African rhythmic beats in a Buddha Bar-ish kind of vibe has become the niche of Yemanya’s  groundbreaking sound.

Who else is part of this Yemanya?

Frank Paco, he is a renowned drummer, percussionist and singer. He has performed alongside artists such as Jimmy Dludlu, Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie, Judith Sephuma, Hugh Masekela and Jonathan Butler. Also he has participated in major festivals such as the North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague for four consecutive years and the New Orleans Jazz Festival.

Bongani Sotshononda, he is a international acclaimed chromatic marimba / marimba percussionist and composer. Bringing over 20 years of experience of performing. He has had a wide range of collaborations from Belgium to New York to Japan. His love for the marimba has led him to put together the The Marimba Extravaganza, which is a 26-piece ensemble.The Marimba Extravaganza is a marimba orchestra which tells us the history of marimba’s. It is narrated and directed by Bongani.

Elina Koytcheva took up the Violin at age 6. With a lifetime of experience that includes concerts and recordings, accompanying well-known artists such as Oleta Adams, Gino Vinelli, Steve Vai, Herbie Hancock, Al Jarreau, Tim Ries. Her violin has taken her across the world. Since 2005 she has been based in Cape Town performing a wide range of styles from classical to gypsy with a electronic twist.

Natasha Otero, at a young age she has accomplished much by performing in a number of orchestras including that of the National Youth Orchestra, International Chamber Festival Orchestra and as a member of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Her work is not limited to that of orchestral sort, she has also performed with several popular bands such as George Benson, Foto Na Dans, and Isochronous.

Yemanya’s debut album was produced by Gabi le Roux (Kaleidosound) and Helmut Meijer (Helmut Meijer Music) in 2010/11 and shows off the sheer talent of their unique sound to a broader audience who are able to appreciate this work. With a team as accomplished as Yemanya there is no doubt that they have all the ingredients for a great musical journey.