From Thula Bhabha the lullaby to “Bhasobha nantsi indoda emnyama” from Mama Miriam Makeba. Female vocalists have always been the most stable support system when it comes to singing and comforting.
We need to understand what a great song does for our everyday struggles. A great song has a power to take your pain away and hide from the harsh realities of life. It can even take you places you have never been physically, that’s power… right?
Whether you are a Nina Simone or Miriam Makeba fan, surely we can all agree that these are some of many black women who have been around through the tough times. While Africans experienced oppression, their music gave much needed courage to move forward and hope for a better tomorrow.
African women have always been stepping up not only in music but in the entertainment industry at large. Before we had the Simphiwe Dana’s, we had the likes of Brenda Fassie & Yvonne Chakachaka just to name a few. Since then, females never looked back.
No stranger to the airwaves, it seems like every time she graces the mic, Msaki can do no wrong. Msaki’s lyrics that make us tap into our inner emotions, breathing deeply and realising life is not bad after all. Asanda Lusaseni Mvana, the birth name given to this talented song bird hailing from Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape. She describes her sound as Indie Afro Folk, a genre heavily inspired by Rhythm & blues, Rock & Jazz. To learn more about her, I took the time to watch and listen to a few of her interviews. Hearing her describing her writing process and the energies she needs confirmed what I had imagined when listening to her music… it’s joyful.
Although she realised at a very young age her singing talents, she decided to take the long way home. She studied Law at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, only to drop out after a year. Msaki changed course and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts at Rhodes University. Soon after, the songstress went to England as an exchange student to study Art at the University of Leeds. Her study choice fits perfectly with her creative nature. As she slowly transitioned back into creating music full time. The best decisions ever as this became the birth of such great beautiful melodies and great collaborations. And that is how Zanelisa: How the water moves‘ was born.
Msaski released her debut EP under her own record label One Shushu Day and featured songs like Nal’themba and Iimfama Ziyabona. She collaborated with the likes of Mobi Dixon love on Love Colour Spin, and Spring Tide with house duo Revolution. Her songs have left us energised while carrying a powerful message. The song Fetch Your Life, had us inspired to get busy whatever hustle we have started and take control of your life. This female vocalist powerhouse knows just where to hit the spot.
Real name Gugu Khumalo, Berita’s music journey has got to be one of the nicest and most inspiring stories. Before we get to that, let’s start with how the name Berita came about. Berita is actually the songbird’s mother’s name. She used her name as it is both unique and carries meaning for her. “I love my name Gugulethu, it means precious. But, when you go to the shop and shout Gugulethu a few people could respond,” she told TrendingSA in 2018.
Berita was born in Bulawayo Zimbabwe. Her family moved to New Zealand in pursuit of greener pastures as dairy farmers when she was 16. She discovered her love for music when she got exposed to soul music ‘the likes of Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. “I saw people that look like me and dress like me,” she said. She then moved to South Africa and pursue music. Many don’t know that Berita’s home language is Ndebele. When she moved to South Africa, Berita spent a lot of time with isiXhosa people. She found similarities between Ndebele and Xhosa, which is why she claims it only took her a few days to learn the language.
Her debut album conquering the spirits won her Best African Pop Album at the 2013 Metro FM Music Awards. A year later, she released her follow-up album Songs Of Empowerment. The album features the likes of the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi which she describes as a life-changing moment in her music career as she saw him as a father figure in her music journey. On the song Mwana Wa Mai, she features the late South African Jazz Music Legend Bra Hugh Masekela.
After learning more about the music business, Berita became an Independent artist after dropping her 3rd album. Naming it Assali Music, the record label’s name is a combination of both her grandmothers’ names: Assa and Lily.
At only 19 years of age, Azana’s soothing powerful voice on her debut album has caught us slipin’! She wasted no time cementing herself as one of SA’s best female vocalists! She introduced herself with a very colourful spring themed video for her first single Your Love.
Azana has a way of getting us in our feelz, yet vibbing to it at the same time. Born in Chesterville Durban, as Makhosazana Masango, Azana happens to be a short version of her name. Her love for music started as early as in the first grade. Her teachers would continuously encourage her to continue as one day she would eventually become a star.
Makhosazana grew up as the only girl amongst four boys. So naturally she always received all the love and attention like the princess she is. Her mother was always aware of Azana’s music talents, but always apprehensive about whether she should pursue it. When she left home for the University of Free state, where she currently studying towards a LLB qualification, things started looking up she would perform at campus events. She attracted the attention of label mate Sino Msolo, who encouraged her to reach out to Sun-El Musician a well-renowned music producer.
Azana describes the creating process for her debut album Ingoma as very exciting. In the album, she tells stories from her own experiences and learning from other surroundings. It’s a sound of new beginnings and hope. With Sun-El Musician and Claudio x Kenza’s, it’s no wonder why we so are so obsessed with this body of work.
Born in 1984, Nomcebo is a Mother of two kids and hails from Hammersdale in Kwazulu Natal. She rose to fame in 2003 after winning a music competition that was run by Ukhozi FM. Nomcebo has come a long way in the music industry and her collaboration with Master KG just proves her readiness and hunger for the success that is yet to come.
Bringing spiritual upliftment with her lyrics, Nomcebo has made it very difficult to ignore her. Proving that she has everything that it takes to be a powerful female vocalist. Here’s a thing, some people make music because they can, while some because they have to, for survival. But music slaps differently when love and passion come to play. Every lyric is delivered with joy, pain and hope. Just like that beautiful sermon by your Pastor or that motivational speaker that screams it’s ”possible!” “it can be done!”
There is something special about having ‘ones’ turn in life, and we can all agree that God’s timing is never really late. Imagine if Nomcebo got the opportunities she wanted then already, not saying she wouldn’t have reached the heights she has now. This is something to think about as she has clearly resonated with us in these trying times.
Simphiwe Nhlangulela, Born in the Kwazulu Natal in 1994. She is the youngest of four siblings. Simmy is another female vocalist from the Sun-El Musician magic show. My imagination tells that there are always flowers and roses around her when she is recording her music. With her puffy afro that sets her apart and beautiful smile, Simmy always serenades her fans with her music. When Ngihamba Nawe comes on, it makes me want to pack my bags and just go to a place filled tranquility mmmm.
Her Father’s love for Maskandi music played a huge role in her love for music. Before becoming a household name, Simmy tried her hand at success through popular talent show Idols SA. The UKZN Social Sciences graduate did not make it far in the competition, this goes to show that when it’s not your time yet, you just got to keep on grinding, and when the opportunity comes, grab it with both hands and tap dance with it.
Tugela Fairy, her debut Album featured songs such as Ngiyesaba and scooped 3 awards at the South African Music Awards. Simmy won awards for best Newcomer of the Year, Best Afro Pop Album & Record of the Year for Sun-El Musician featuring Simmy and Lelo Kamau – Sonini.
Born as Charmaine Shamiso Mpambiro in Mutare Zimbabwe 13 June 1994, Shasha is regarded as the Queen of Amapiano. Shasha, she who reigns supreme, has become one of South Africa’s critically acclaimed female vocalists.
Shasha’ very down-to-earth personality comes across through her broadcast interviews. As successful as she has been in her career, she never takes all the credit to herself. She always pays tribute to artist like Kabza de small & Maphorisa for helping her get to where she is today.
Although Shasha had always known she would end up doing music, circumstances were not always favourable. Coming from a household with strict parents and the need of job security, one of her stumbling blocks was having to convince her parents that she could be a musician. Her persistence for music led to her parents giving her an ultimatum, it is either she shapes up or shifts out. This is when she took a bold move to come down to South Africa and chase her dreams.
Her biggest break came when she met with Dj Maphorisa and signed under his record label Blaqboy Music. I first encountered Shasha’s melodic and powerful voice when she got featured on Mlindo the Vocalist’s album. The two teamed up in a song called Nge Thanda Wena and the album was later certified platinum. 2018 is the year where we saw The Yanoz taking up space in the African charts. Many great collaboration came to life with the likes of Samthing Soweto on Akulaleki and Love You Tonight by MFR Souls. These were amongst the biggest hits released in 2019 and certified Shasha as the household name.
November 2019 Shasha released her 8 track EP blossom. The EP features songs like Abondaba with Samthing Soweto, and the instant hit Tender Love. Tender Love was on high rotation across all major radio stations and during the festive season. In May 2020 Shasha was nominated for BET Awards where she walked away with the Best New International Act Award. We can not wait to see what the Queen is cooking next.
Consistancy, hardwork & sticking to your lane these are some attributes and qualities that best describe Ami Faku. Before getting her big break, Ami had to face her fair share of the high & lows of chasing her dream as she had been rejected 2 times on the popular music show Idols SA.
Born in 1993 28 May in Port Elizabeth in a small village of Izinyoka, Ami started singing in church at the age of 6 where her father was a pastor. Around the age of 18, she started recording her own music at a local studio where she would be invited for free sessions.
Not one to quit, Ami took another chance at stardom by entering another popular competition, The Voice SA. The Music show was a perfect fit for her as she feels that catered for all types of voices, thus making it as far as the top 16.
After her elimination from the show, Ami was invited by one of the show’s producers for a private session. This is where she met the Vth season founder Raphael Benza who eventually offered her a recording deal.
Vth Season is a home to some of the most popular names in the entertainment industry such as AKA, Tresor & Zoocci coke dope just to name a few. Vth Season saw her being exposed to great artists and eventually landing some of the greatest collaborations such as De Mogul SA on Ungowami. Her first single, a smooth jam called Ndikhethe Wena intro showed that she didn’t come to take no prisoners.
In September she dropped her 11 tracks debut Album Imali which featured artist such as Blaq Diamond. She got an opportunity to co-write a song with one of her idols ‘Ntsika’ from The Soil. She regards Tshomi Yam to be one of the biggest highlights of her music career. Into Ingawe featured on Sun El Musician, still remains one the biggest motivator anthems.
When it comes to talent, South Africa still remains spoilt for choice. When it comes to increadibly soulful female vocalists, we find ourselves up there with the best. Who is your favourite South African female vocalist? Let us know!