Belinto is the stage name for South African vocalist Lufuno Munzhedzi. He makes rap music in his home province of Limpopo, South Africa, and he was born in a small village called Mavhunga in what was then a Bantustan called Venda. Bantustans were designated by the white-dominated government as “national homelands” for Black South Africans who the whites called Bantu. The existence of these states further oppressed Black South Africans under apartheid rule. At the end of apartheid, Venda became a part of what is now Limpopo province, and Belinto considers his music to be “Limpopo music” and in the “Venda rap category” because of his roots in the area. He raps in a the Tshivenda language with a brand called “Zijayzi Music.” He also speaks almost all of the numerous South African languages. He says he is in love with music, so he is spending more time in the studio which makes him “a singer with a lot of flows.” Belinto started his career as a vocalist in 2014.
Trumpeter, composer and Doctor of Musical Arts, Jonathan Saraga, has received thirty international musical awards, grants and/or commissions over the past fifteen years. He won the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Solo Competition in 2007 and competed as a finalist in the 2009 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition. He has been selected for four intensive and/or residency programs including the 2011 School for Improvisational Music Summer Intensive Program, the 2015 Banff International Summer Intensive Program in Jazz and Creative Music, the 2019 Banff Early Fall Musicians in Residence program and the 2021 Chashama chaNorth Artist in Residence program. Additional residency related accolades include finalist status in the 2021 Haleakala National Park Artist in Residence program and waitlist status for the 2021 Millay Colony of the Art’s Core Residency program. Jonathan has also competed as a finalist in three jazz trumpet vacancy auditions: the 2011 Juilliard Artist Diploma program, the 2020 Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra’s 4th trumpet vacancy and the 2021 U.S. Navy Band Commodores’ jazz trumpet vacancy.
Jonathan received the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award in 2016, was selected as a finalist in the 2019 Chamber Music America New Jazz Work’s grant competition, as a semi finalist in the 2021 Unsigned Only Music Competition and received a total of five Semi-Finalist selections and one Honorable-Mention selection in the International Songwriting Competition between 2016 and 2017. In 2020, Saraga was chosen to present at the Association for Popular Music Education conference in Edinburgh Scotland, and at the International Society for Improvised Music conference in Melbourne, Australia. He has received Outstanding Performance and Outstanding Arrangement Downbeat Student Music Awards (2020 & 2021) and was selected to participate in the 2020/21 BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Jonathan has also received commissions and/or grants from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers, United States Artists, the University of Colorado Boulder Music Advisory Board, the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Actors Fund/Local 802 Musicians Union, the Jazz Foundation of America, the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance, and the Recording Academy/MusiCares.
Dr. Saraga has played in internationally acclaimed/award-winning ensembles such as the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Birdland Big Band, The Mingus Big Band, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and the Jimmy Greene Big Band, Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows Orchestra, the Terraza Big Band, the Valery Ponomarev Big Band, Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band, the Jihye Lee Jazz Orchestra, the Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra and the Migiwa Miyajima Jazz Orchestra, as well as ensembles led by Tyshawn Sorey, Steve Coleman, and Henry Cole.
Piero D’Agostino has taught acoustic guitar in some institutes of music in Turin, Italy. In 1985 he composed and performed the soundtrack for the short film The Wait aired on RAI 3, directed by Fulvio Richetto and produced in the RAI studios in Turin. From 2005 to 2008, a 20 piece Heidelberg guitar orchestra performed some of his compositions in various European cities. Two of his compositions are included in the soundtrack for Buon Lavoro with Giuliana de Sio, Giancarlo Giannini, Lina Sastris, Franco Nero, Massimo Lopez and directed by Marco Demurtas for Cinemascetti Produzioni. The internationally renowned producer and arranger, Corrado Rustici, included his song, Ice Sculptures, on the album, For the Beauty of This Wicked World. This song was played by his brother and acclaimed acoustic guitar player, Peppino D’Agostino.