Nomfusi and The Lucky Charms
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Nomfusi and The Lucky Charms

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Kwazibani (Universal)

It isn't difficult to tell that Nomfusi is inspired by Sophiatown jazz musicians such as the talented Abigail Khubeka. But it is unexpected that a young woman such as herself would release such a mature and honest album. Raised in Khayelitsha, Nomfusi's life wasn't easy. She grew up without a father and lost her mother to Aids at 12. Her guardian aunt died three years later. Her lyrics are often sad and reflect the experiences of her life. Nontsokolo (meaning poverty), for example, talks of a girl whose name is poverty and knows poverty; Kwazibani is a song for and about her mother. Her lyrics sometimes take a gospel turn, such as in Ngcwele, which is a song to the Lord that leaves the listener slightly confused about her music's genre. For non-Xhosa speakers it is refreshing to have the lyrics translated into English, making her music accessible. Instead of being paralysed by grief Nomfusi has used her painful experiences to catapult her into the world of music. But at times the tracks drag on longer than necessary and there are a lot of lyrical repetitions. -- Karabo Keepile - Mail & Guardian


January 13, 2010

By Kgomotso Moncho

There are a number of things that make new kid on the block Nomfusi Gotyana interesting.

If you glance at the cover of her debut album, Kwasibani, dedicated to her late mother, she looks like a younger version of the legendary Dolly Rathebe. Seeing her up close she's petite but when she opens her mouth to sing, she's like a raging Tina Turner with her vivacious, big voice.

This Eastern Cape singer, who now lives in Cape Town, has performed at international tribute shows for Miriam Makeba, opened for bands like Freshlyground and is a regular act at Cape Town joints like Obz Café.

"I posted some of my showcases on YouTube and the next thing I got invites to perform at Miriam Makeba tribute shows in Norway and Canada. I was so honoured to be associated with the Makeba name and South African artists are treated like royalty overseas," she said.

Her music is hard to define because it has so many influences - from swing, Afro pop to gospel. Essentially, it's just good music and her treatment is so different.

"I have difficulty explaining my music. I like to call it a child who's asking so many questions. Children are inquisitive by nature and I'm just speaking my mind.

"I think that leaves a lot of room for maturity."

Her songwriting style is another area of interest. It's catchy and so reminiscent of the way another legend, Dorothy Masuka, writes her music.

She has a song called Nontsokolo, but it's not a cover of Masuka's classic hit, it's her own original composition. And this gives her music a retro vibe.


"I am influenced by the way the older artists wrote their music. They had a way of sending a message through a song which was fun yet honest and poignant and I like that.

"Their struggle was different from ours now. We are free, but we are still trapped and those are the kinds of things I speak about," she says.

She was discovered at Star Dust in Cape Town, a spot where the waitresses are also required to sing.

"I was bad at waitressing because my English was not that good and I wasn't confident. But when I got on stage I was the total opposite."

She got a songwriting and voice training scholarship, was signed to Universal Music and the rest is history.

With her debut, Gotyana pays tribute to her mother, Kwasibani, who she says shaped her into the person she is today.

"My mom was a sangoma and my earliest musical memory is of her playing her drum for me. When she died of HIV/Aids my siblings and I lived with my aunt who later died of the same disease.

"But she really loved us and she wasn't shy to say it, which was a rare thing among black families. It's that love that has pulled me through and got me to where I am today."

Gotyana has just been invited to perform at the Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada in June, the largest jazz fest in the world.

Now that's something a mother would be proud of.


- Independent Newspapers


Her compositions have the discipline of pop, the propulsion and passion of rock as well as the heart of soul and R&B, and she and her magnificent band deliver her songs with glistening bravado. Despite being of diminutive physical stature, she could command just about any stage, no matter the size. - The Next 48 Hours


Discography

Kwazibani, Universal Music
http://www.nomfusi.com or http://www.myspace.com/nomfusi

Photos

Bio

With an incredibly powerful voice and electrifying stage presence, Nomfusi is conquering the world with her band from the townships, The Lucky Charms.

With six international tours under her belt, she faces yet another stellar line-up for 2011 with her signature blend of Sophiatown jazz and Motown soul. Her tour dates this year include the legendary Montreal Jazz Festival, Womad in England and Festival Musicas do Mundo in Portugal.

In July 2010 on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada, a critic described her as “an absolute riot to watch and hear.” South African music critic Miles Keylock described her performance on her debut album as "projecting strength and confidence” and “standing tall in defiance of pop-fashion expectations.”

Her accolades include two Metro FM nominations, including Best Female Artist, Best African Pop Album and a SAMA (South African Music Award) nomination for Best Music Video.

Nomfusi was born in the township of KwaZhakele in the Eastern Cape, a beautiful but poverty-stricken province in rural South Africa. Her single mother, Kwazibani (“Who Knows?” in English) raised her while her father languished in jail for 21 years. A domestic worker by day, Kwazibani was a sangoma (African medicine woman) with a gift for music. Nomfusi would accompany her mother to the weekly sangoma rituals (Intlombe) where they would dance and sing for hours.

Tragically, in 1998, Nomfusi was orphaned at the age of twelve when Kwazibani died of Aids. Nomfusi’s aunt took them in, but she also tragically died of the same disease three years later.With remarkable inner strength she turned around her situation to become one of the brightest new stars South Africa has to offer.

Nomfusi played a big role in the FIFA World Cup celebrations in South Africa, performing to crowds of nearly 65 000 spectators at the City of Cape Town's Fan Parks. She also toured with the World Cup Trophy to far flung places like Umtata in the former Transkei.

Nomfusi’s first album, Kwazibani, was mixed by UK-based producer Ross Cullum, producer-engineer of heavy weights like Tori Amos and Enya, at Wispington Studios in England. The album was awarded five stars in DRUM Magazine, with the tracks Kwazibani and Nontsokolo becoming infectious hits in South Africa.

With a powerful voice, adorable charisma and photogenic beauty, Nomfusi is carving out a solid global circuit for herself. She has something to say, and the world is listening.