Thandiswa Mazwai

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Thandiswa
Birth name Thandiswa Mazwai
Origin Johannesburg, South Africa,
Genres Traditional
Funk
Jazz
House
Afrosoul
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1998–present
Labels Gallo Records, South Africa
Website [1]

Thandiswa Mazwai (born 31 March 1976) is a multi-award winning South African musician, and is also the lead vocalist and songwriter of Bongo Maffin.

Early life[edit]

Thandiswa was born in 1976 (the year of the Soweto Uprising). She grew up almost entirely in Soweto, Johannesburg, amidst the heavy apartheid township violence of the 1980s. Both her parents were journalists and anti-apartheid political activists, and she recollects that her home was filled with books, articles and thick with political discussions. It was this environment that nurtured her perspective as an artist. She went on to attend Wits University where she studied English literature and International Relations. Her work has always been inspired by her mother (who died early in Thandiswa's life) and the writings of people like Steve Biko and Frantz Fanon, Chinua Achebe and Kwame Nkrumah.

Career[edit]

Early days and Bongo Maffin[edit]

Thandiswa's first attempt to get noticed occurred at the Shell Road to Fame talent show but Thandiswa did not even make it to the semi-finals round. She did, however, catch the eye of musician and producer Don Laka, who arranged to include her in a project he was working on. And so she began her career in 1998 with Bongo Maffin, one of the pioneering bands of Kwaito. She became widely recognized as the voice of South Africa’s conscious youth, their compositions consistently combining dance floor favourites with thought-provoking lyrics. They were invited to perform all over the world, and shared the stage with musical icons Stevie Wonder, the Marley clan, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Chaka Khan, Sean Paul, Steel Pulse and Skunk Anansie, among others. Their contribution to the South African musical cannon earned Bongo Maffin numerous awards, among them South African Music Awards, the Kora All Africa Music Awards, and the Metro FM Music Awards.

Going solo: Thandiswa[edit]

After five albums with Bongo Maffin she ventured onto a solo career. Her first project, Zabalaza (2004), reached double platinum status and won numerous awards, including a Kora award for Best African Female and four South African Music Awards, including Best Album. It was also nominated for the BBC Radio 3 Planet awards. Her second album, Ibokwe (2009), reached gold status in the first few weeks of its release and her live DVD, Dance of the Forgotten Free (2010), won Best Female Artist and Best Live DVD in 2011. The Guardian has called her “South Africa's finest female contemporary singer.”[1]

Her music is often deeply political and her compositions include traditional Xhosa rhythms, Mbaqanga, reggae, kwaito and funk and jazz sounds.

Thandiswa has performed all over the world at venues, including at the 2010 FIFA World Cup Opening Ceremony, The Apollo in New York, WOMEX, the Cannes Film Festival, Midem, the Hackney Empire, Africa Brazil Festival, FESPACO Film Festival, BBC World Music Awards and many Mandela 46664 concerts. She has several noteworthy collaborations. For instance, she collaborated on two songs with US musician Meshell Ndegeocello on her album The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams, which was nominated for a Grammy in 2007. At home in South Africa, Thandiswa has collaborated with illustrious musicians including Hugh Masekela, Stimela, the late Busi Mhlongo, and BLK JKS.

In July 2012 she duetted with Paul Simon in Hyde Park, London, in his Graceland album's 25th anniversary concert. She sang the female vocals on Under African Skies, which was originally sung by Linda Ronstadt on the Graceland album.

She is an ambassador for 46664 and an ambassador for the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.

Discography[edit]

  • Dance of the Forgotten Free (2010) - Live DVD: Gallo Records
  • Dance of the Forgotten Free (2010) - Live CD: Gallo Records
  • Ibokwe (2009): Gallo Records
  • Zabalaza (2004): Gallo Records

BONGO MAFFIN

  • New Construction (2005): Gallo Records – Gold Sales
  • Bongolution (2001): Sony BMG – Double Platinum Sales
  • The Concerto (1998): Sony BMG – Multi Platinum Sales
  • Final Entry (1997): EMI
  • Leaders of D’Gong (1996): EMI

Awards[edit]

Thandiswa[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
2004 Zabalaza Metro FM Awards: Best Female Artist Won
2004 Zabalaza Kora Africa Music Awards: Best Female Artist, Southern Africa Won
2004 Zabalaza Kora Africa Music Awards: Best Female Artist, Africa Won
2005 Zabalaza South African Music Award: Best Female Artist Won
2005 Zabalaza South African Music Award: Best African Contemporary Album Won
2005 Zabalaza BBC World Music Awards: Best African Album Nominated
2005 Zabalaza Channel O Music Awards: Best Music Video 'La'hlumenze' Won
2005 Metropolitan Eastern Cape Awards, Arts and Culture Award Won
2008 Pan African Language Board: Female Artist of the Decade Won
2008 Nizalwa Ngobani Pan African Language Board: Song of the Decade Won
2010 Ibokwe South African Music Award: Best African Contemporary Album Nominated
2010 Ibokwe South African Music Award: Best Female Artist Nominated
2011 Dance of the Forgotten Free: LIVE South African Music Award: Best Contemporary DVD Won
2011 Dance of the Forgotten Free: LIVE South African Music Award: Best Female Artist Won

Bongo Maffin[edit]

Year Recipient Award Result
1999 The Concerto South African Music Awards: Best African Pop Album Won
2001 Kora Africa Music Awards: Best African Group Won
2002 Bongolution Metro FM Awards: Best African Pop Won
2002 Bongolution Metro FM Awards: Best Duo/Group Won
2002 Bongolution South African Music Award: Best Duo/Group Won
2006 New Construction South African Music Award: Best Duo/Group Won
2006 New Construction Kora Africa Music Awards: Best African Group Won}
2006 New Construction BBC World Music Awards: Best African Album Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ Denselow, Robin (12 July 2011). "Hugh Masekela: Celebrate Mama Afrika – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 

External links[edit]