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  • Thandiswa

    Country  South Africa
    Genres band fusion jazz pop reggae urban
    Website www.music.org.za
    FestivalSauti za Busara 2010

    Zabalaza, 2004
    Ibokwe, 2009


    From the very beginning, Thandiswa Mazwai has always been at the forefront of change. Born in the rural homeland of Transkei, she grew up in Soweto during the '80s, as part of the “Soweto generation”, who witnessed the violent dismantling of apartheid and the growth of a free South Africa. The daughter of journalists, she was constantly surrounded by banned books, writing, and political discourse. This would eventually prove to be an important element in the singer's songwriting and political awareness.

    She burst into the public's consciousness as lead vocalist and songwriter of award-winning group Bongo Maffin. Hailed as the sound of “the new South Africa”, Bongo Maffin were one of the first groups to perform kwaito, a purely South African mixture of hiphop, reggae, and house music flavoured with South African sensibilities and dialects. A very strong selling point for Bongo Maffin was Thandiswa's politically conscious lyrics and rich, expressive vocals.

    The trio became the most popular group in South Africa, releasing five albums and performing all over the world, sharing the stage with Stevie Wonder, the Marley clan, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Chaka Khan, Sean Paul, Steel Pulse and many more.

    In 2004, whilst still a member of Bongo Maffin, Thandiswa released her solo album Zabalaza. A stunning collection of soulful, genre-bending songs, the album documents a contemporary African identity. Travelling to her rural birthplace, Thandiswa married the traditional harmonies of Xhosa chants and instruments with modern kwaito, gospel, and jazz sounds. The album electrified Africa, Europe, and Japan and earned her a cavalcade of awards, including a Kora Award for Best Female Artist (2004) and SA Music Awards for Best African Contemporary Album and Best Female Artist (2005)

    “I was never in a rush to do a solo album”, she explains. “Only when I reached the point where I felt I could be accountable for my thoughts and ideas, did I feel comfortable doing it. To me, recording this album also represents my being able to give young Africans in the 21st century an authentic voice, so it's a project I took very seriously.”

    Her hand-picked band was selected from a range of musicians who participated in a three day auditions process. Chosen from over 400 candidates, the new band brought a vibrant, fresh young sound to her live performances.

    “I decided to create a band from a completely fresh crop of musicians”, Thandiswa explains. “There's so much talent out there, just waiting to be discovered. I'm living my dreams through my work, and I'm able to do that partly because certain people gave me a chance. So I want to be able to give other young talents the same opportunity, and allow them to live their dreams. We can travel the world together, making music.”

    2009 saw the release of her second solo album, Ibokwe. The album attained gold sales status in South Africa within six weeks of release. It is one of the albums of 2009, and a work that definitely will stand the test of time.

    Songlines TOP OF THE WORLD ALBUM: “Ibokwe has to be one of the most powerful releases to come out of South Africa since it emerged from the darkness to become the Rainbow Nation.” Nigel Williamson, Songlines magazine, Jan/February 2010


    Thandiswa Mazwai is an 46664 and Eastern Cape Tourism Ambassador and her participation is supported by South African Airways, Department of Arts & Culture South Africa and South African High Commission, Dar Es Salaam.

    With thanks to Goethe-Institut Tanzania