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Simphiwe Dana

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Simphiwe Dana
Simphiwe Dana performing Live at "Theatre on the Track"
Simphiwe Dana performing Live at "Theatre on the Track"
Background information
Birth nameSimphiwe Dana
Born (1980-01-23) January 23, 1980 (age 44)
Butterworth, Transkei South Africa
OriginJohannesburg, South Africa
GenresJazz, Afro-soul and traditional music
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer

Simphiwe Dana (born 23 January 1980) is a South African singer and songwriter who works mostly in her mother tongue, the Xhosa language.[1] Dana is also known for her creative social commentary and activism through music as a political art form. Her career in music began in 2002, at the age of 22.

Born in Butterworth and raised in Lusikisiki in Transkei, Dana signed a record deal with Gallo Records and released her debut studio album, Zandisile (2004), which became a commercially success, won Best Newcomer and Best Jazz Album.

Early life[edit]

Simphiwe was born on 23 January 1980 in Butterworth,[2] Transkei, South Africa and raised in the town of Lusikisiki.

Dana came from a religious background with her father being a preacher and as she grew up in the church, exposing her to music in both choral and gospel forms.[3]


She attended Vela Private School in Mthatha, where she matriculated in 1997.

Her tertiary education pursued her interests in graphic design, and she successfully studied for her National Diploma in IT at the Wits Technikon, Johannesburg.


After signed a record deal with Gallo Records, her debut album Zandisile was released in 2004.[4] The album sold very well and gained several awards, including some South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2005. On its worldwide release the album gained success in the Billboard charts and she won an AVO Session Basel Award.[3]

In 2005, Dana won the "Best Newcomer" award and Best Jazz Vocal album at the 11th South African Music Awards with her first album Zandisile.[5]

In 2007, she was named the "Best Female Artist", with the song "The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street", at the 13th South African Music Awards.[6] She is a creative advocate of Afrofuturism and Afrofeminism.

On July 9, 2010, Dana's third studio album Kulture Noir was released in South Africa. At 10th Annually ceremony of Metro FM Music Awards, she took home two awards; Best Contemporary Jazz, Best Female.[7] On November 25, 2018, she performed at Moncalieri Jazz Festival in Turin.[8]

In 2013 she started to record her album Firebrand and delayed to release it following the exit to her former label.[9] In early 2014, she signed a record deal with Sony Music. On October 21, 2015, his fourth studio album Firebrand was released.[10] The album produced four singles "Killjoy", "Roll Me Down", "Masterpiece" and "My Light".

On April 24, 2020, her fifth studio album Bamako was released.[11][12] [13]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Zandisile (2004)
  • The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street (2006)
  • Kulture Noir (2010)
  • Firebrand (2015)
  • Bamako (2020)
  • TBA (2025)

Live albums[edit]

  • An Evening with Simphiwe Dana: Live at the Lyric Theatre (2011)
  • Celebrating Ten Years Live at the Bassline (2016)
  • The Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience (2017)


Dana's music draws strongly on her upbringing in the Transkei, and she cites[citation needed] the powerful singing of her mother as an inspiration for her and her siblings, and ultimately as a key motivator in her resolve to pursue her musical career.She has been cited as the modern day Mama Africa.


South African Afro Pop Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2021 Saafma Best Female Artist Award[14] Pending
Best Song of the Year Pending
Best Rising Star Pending

South African Music Awards[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 Herself Best Newcomer Won[15]
2021 Bamako Best Adult Contemporary Album Nominated[16][17]


  1. ^ Angela Bolowana (21 January 2016). "Criminalising racism a bad idea: Dana". sabc.co.za. Archived from the original on 14 November 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Simphiwe Dana raises black consciousness through her music". DESTINY Magazine. 8 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Simphiwe Dana | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  4. ^ Hayden, Guy. "BBC - Music - Review of Simphiwe Dana - Zandisile". BBC.
  5. ^ "Simphiwe Dana Biography" (PDF). 5seasons.co.za. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Music – Review of Simphiwe Dana – The One Love Movement on Banto Biko Street". BBC. 27 August 2007. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  7. ^ Keepile, Karabo (29 November 2010). "Performances, fashion light up Metro FM Music Awards - The Mail & Guardian". Mail & Guardian.
  8. ^ "Simphiwe Dana at All About Jazz". All About Jazz. 22 December 2018.
  9. ^ DJ Okapi (21 October 2015). "Simphiwe Dana – Firebrand | Music In Africa". Music In Africa.
  10. ^ "Firebrand! Simphiwe Dana's new album | News24". News24. South Africa. 2 November 2015.
  11. ^ Williams, Kojo Bentum (1 May 2020). "Simphiwe Dana releases new album Bamako". voyagesafriq.
  12. ^ Samanga, Rufaro (14 May 2020). "Simphiwe Dana's New Album 'Bamako' Lays Bare Her Musical Ingenuity - OkayAfrica". OkayAfrica.
  13. ^ "Simphiwe Dana drops much-anticipated 5th studio album". Independent Online. 26 April 2020.
  14. ^ Patience Bambalele (7 May 2021). "Star-studded list of nominees for 2021 South African Afro Music Awards". Sowetan LIVE.
  15. ^ "South African Music Awards 2005". SouthAfrica.info. 19 April 2005.
  16. ^ Peolana Malema (20 May 2021). "Full list of SAMA nominees". East Coast Radio.
  17. ^ Dayile, Qhama (31 July 2021). "Here's the full list of the SAMA winners | Drum". News24. South Africa.

External links[edit]