[  African Jazz, Hip Hop Kwaito Reggae & more...  ] 29 May 2024   SA Time:     
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Mazwai, Thandiswa (South Africa)  
Thandiswa ©

Best Female Artist
SA Music Awards 2005

Best African Contemporary Album
SA Music Awards 2005

Best Producer for Zabalaza
Malambule (Sipho Sithole)
SA Music Awards 2005

Best Female Vocalist
Metro Fm Awards 2004

Best African Female Artist
Kora Awards 2004

Best Female Artist, Southern Africa
Kora Awards 2004

“Thandiswa is one of the best combinations of songwriting talent and voice that I have had pleasure to work with in my 30 years in the music industry - an inspiring and joyful experience!"
- JP “Bluey" Maunick (Incognito)

Ever since she burst into the publics consciousness as the lead vocalist and songwriter of Award-winning group Bongo Maffin, Thandiswa Mazwai has been an indelible part of the South African cultural landscape. Her musical beginnings, however, were not quite as auspicious - her first attempt to get noticed occurred at the Shell Road to Fame talent show in a move that must be puzzling the judges to this day, Thandiswa didn’t 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 - Bongo Maffins' sophomore album.

Genre: kwaito, mbaqanga, reggae
The band became known as one of the founding members of kwaito, and went on to release four more albums, becoming widely recognized as the voice of South Africa’s conscious youth their compositions consistently combined 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, amongst others. Their contribution to the South African musical cannon earned Bongo Maffin numerous awards, amongst them South African Music Awards, the Kora All Africa Music Awards, and the Metro FM Music Awards.

After almost eight years with Bongo Maffin, Thandiswa finally resolved to begin work on a solo project. The album, a work that elegantly fuses various musical genres, showcases her renowned artistic and musical capabilities, a talent which transcends borders and music genres. “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 take very seriously." She describes the recording of the album as a daunting process, and one of the most difficult projects she’s ever embarked on “it’s difficult to take your ideas and translate them into something tangible. But I’ve worked hard, and I think the album represents a real musical integrity."

Thandiswa Mazwai ©
Indeed, the album, entitled Zabalaza, harnessed the talents of an illustrious coterie of producers and vocalists Tshepo Tshola features on the rousing Ndilinde, Xhosa traditional vocalist Madosini lent her expertise on Lahl’umlenze, Mandla Spikiri produced Kwanele, while the lush Transkei Moon and Ndizokulibala were jointly produced by local talent D-Rex and Bluey Maunick, founder and producer of the world renowned band Incognito. Malambule, who also is the executive producer of the entire album, produces the rest of the songs. Released on Gallo Records Gallo World Vision (GWV) label, the new album also saw Thandiswa becoming a central part of the entire recording project from the production to imaging of the album cover, Thandiswa was involved in each phase of the process.

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 brings 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. I’m really looking forward to going on the road with these guys."

As additional preparation for the recording process, Thandiswa also embarked on a pilgrimage to her mothers home village in the Transkei, moving on to spend a fortnight in Mkhankato, Madosini’s village in the heart of rural Transkei. Here she was exposed to the original sounds of Xhosa traditional melodies, and was introduced to the Uhadi, a traditional Xhosa one-string harp. Over the two weeks, Madosini imparted cultural wisdoms, explaining the philosophies inherent in the creation of Xhosa music respect for others and self, recognizing the spiritual realm as the true source of the music, and the key role of nature in the creation of music.

The result is an album that’s sure to enchant audiences in South Africa and beyond. Thandiswa has applied her eight years in the music industry to full effect in creating the album. The compositions range from traditional Xhosa rhythms, upbeat Mbaqanga, a touch of reggae, thumping kwaito and quasi-gospel sounds that are truly representative of this artists broad range. Thandiswa straddles the urban and the rural, and effortlessly melds the traditional with the modern. A child raised in South Africa’s urban townships, her birthplace is rural Transkei, and in Zabalaza, she remains unfailingly loyal to both.

There is no doubt that Zabalaza will become one of the most important musical projects to emerge out of South Africa. Released in the year that South Africa celebrates ten years of freedom, the album is also a metaphor for Thandiswa’s musical emancipation she’s matured into an artist who can stand up and express her views, and create a project that she feels honestly represents her voice, thoughts and experience. The number of major awards that she and the album have been given is a testament to this, from the Kora Awards in December 2004 to the South African Music Awards in 2005.

During 2004, Thandiswa has toured incessantly throughout southern Africa to promote the album, vowing audiences from Cape Town to Polokwane, Port St Johns to Nelspruit. In this process, she has built up a band of young and talented instrumentalists to a solid performance unit of seasoned musicians. Among the highlights of the past year are the Awesome Africa Festival (Durban), the Joy of Jazz in Mpumalanga, (Nelspruit), The Freedom Day Celebration 2005 (ABSA Stadium, Durban), as well as spirited performances at the Kora Awards, the Metro Fm Awards, and the SA Music Awards at Sun City.

During the next few months, she toured internationally to promote Zabalaza to audiences in France (Cannes Film Festival), the UK (the Pride Festival, London) Madrid, Spain as well as in three major Indian cities (New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore). She also maintained her active involvement as a member of Bongomaffin, performing at the 46664 Arctic Concert in Norway.

2009 saw the release of her second solo album, Ibokwe. The album attained Gold sales status in South Africa within six weeks of release.

Contact Details:

Media & Press
Marang Setshwaelo
+27 11 234 8650 / +27 84 580 1920

Product Inquiries
Sipho Sithole
Gallo Record Company
+27 11 340 9600


Making Music Productions
+27 21 422 0118
  Recordings : Mazwai, Thandiswa

new album scheduled for release Jan/Feb 2009


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