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Cullis, Shakeel Sohail-Gibran (South Africa)  
Shakeel Sohail-Gibran CULLIS

BORN in Cape Town in 1995, bassist and composer Shakeel Culllis has forged a powerful presence on the South African music circuit, performing as a teenager in Indie Rock and Progressive Metal bands, before commencing studies towards a B.Mus degree at the University of Witwatersrand, where he was mentored by Dr Carlo Mobelli.

Shakeel has coupled his studies with work on the professional music circuit, performing alongside SAMA and Standard Bank Young Artist winners Nduduzo Makhathini and Kyle Shepherd, and with the ensembles of Linda Sikhakhane, and Mandla Mlangeni. He also works with contemporary music pioneers such as Asanda Msaki (ZA) and Beatenberg.

Upright Bass, bass guitar, piano
Genre: improvisational, African Jazz, traditional / indigenous
Of his time growing up in Cape Town’s Manenberg township, he speaks of his “pursuit of identity as a mixed-race born-free, moved me to seek better ways to express myself”. Although studies have been disrupted due to lack of financial resource, Shakeel has retained focus on this journey.

During 2016, Shakeel was an active member of the Delft Big Band, and resumed studies at the South African College of Music at the University of Cape Town, where he was tutored by Dutch legend Hein van de Geyn.

His interest and passion for jazz and improvisational music has been stimulated by his tutors, as well as by a remarkably diverse range of professional engagements. During 2017, the array of partners which he has performed with has grown to include icons of South African jazz and avante garde jazz, including veteran Blue Notes drummer Louis Tebogo Moholo, and pianist Hilton Schilder.

Shakeel CULLIS © S.Gordon
His pursuit of original voicing has prompted a journey of discovery of indigenous sounds, fueled through collaborative performances with isiXhosa music leaders such as Madosini, and Dizu Plaatjies. He also began performing his own compositions, and with his group INIT, appeared at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway.

During December 2017, Shakeel successfully auditioned to study at Berklee, Boston USA. He has secured partial support towards tuition fees, and subject to fundraising the balances, aims to take up this incredible opportunity early in 2018.

[This biography by Steve Gordon for, December 2017]

Contact Details:

(+27) 78 816 0494 mobile
Shakeel on Facebook

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