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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

RICKY GASS LAUNCH (article first published : 2000-11-22)

Ricky Gass is a legendary Durban singer/performer who, after having grown up in the city's orphanages, has devoted his life to charitable causes. He has spent decades performing free of charge at old age homes, orphanages and fund-raising benefits for numerous causes such as the SPCA, Hospice and TAFTA.

Now, approaching his 70th year, Ricky lives alone and in penury in a tiny flat in Point Road. Yet he is a fantastically talented man whose selflessness, passion and artistic vision have inspired a community of young Durban artists, musicians and fashion designers to pay tribute to him. This tribute comes in the form of The Ricky Gass Experience, an album that was released at the NSA Gallery on November 18. The CD features recordings of original works by Ricky and cover versions by some of the city's top musicians. All the time and effort put into the project was volunteered, with the single purpose being to raise money for Ricky in his old age

Original works and remixes of his songs have been created, recorded and donated by: Dean Henning, Felix Laband and Max "Noise" Katz; violinist and arranger Brendon Bussy; lapsteel guitar guru Michael Whitehead of Famous Curtain Trick fame; alternative country band Lilo; trumpeter Ettienne Moorcroft; singer Masha du Toit; cellist Rolf Deppe and members of the SA Naval Band. Top Durban artist James Beckett has donated an original photograph to each CD. The limited edition CD sleeves are made out of old record covers.

“This is a truly worthwhile cause, proving that inspiration, passion and dedication can rally the community to help those in need,” says co-ordinator Brendon Bussy. “Aside from this, from an artistic point of view, this venture is unprecedented. The CD itself is an amazing musical document which puts the spotlight on a genuine - yet neglected - icon of the Durban cultural scene, sending the message that you don't need to be rich or famous to have your unique gifts recognised. In the future, the success of this unique venture might inspire others to follow suit.”

More details about the CD from Brendon Bussy, 27 Cottingham, 131 Bath Road, Glenwood, 4001. Phone (031) 202-8309 or e-mail: bmstekker@eastcoast.co.za




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