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Dana, Simphiwe (South Africa)  
Simphiwe Dana © S.Gordon 2005

BORN in the Transkei, Eastern Cape, Simphiwe Dana entered South African music mainstream in 2004 with her debut album Zandisile.

Notching up numerous live appearances in the new millennium, it was her debut album which earned her a South African music award for “Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Newcomer" Aside from Zandisile, her performance of the theme song on the soundtrack of the Yizo Yizo television show greatly enhanced her profile with the South African audience.

The singer was born in rural Gcuwa, and then raised in the town of Lusikisiki. She schooled at the Vela private school in Umtata, from which 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.

Dana’s music draws strongly on her upbringing in the Transkei, and she sites 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 typically sketches her work in acapella form, before
Genre: African
revisiting the compositions and fleshing out song structures. Vocal arrangements are up front in her music, often layered over a sparse instrumentation and groove.

Simphiwe Dana has maintained a strong presence, with consistent radio play and live appearances at key national events and Festivals such as Arts Alive, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz. In September 2005, pregnant with her second child, and travelling to perform in Vereeniging, she was involved in a serious road accident. She was hospitalised for a week, and needed reconstructive surgery, but fortunately gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

In the ensuing period, she took time out to prioritise her maternal role, and also for her own healing. She maintains her live performance roster, which increasingly includes international dates. During 2006, she was also continuing work towards her second album.

> This text by S.Gordon, adapted from Gallo record company press release.
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