Entertainment, Film and Music

New & Next: Meet South African Soul Singer Simphiwe Dana

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There is a new generation of talented young jazz musicians in South Africa who are making their voices heard in the perpetual conversation that characterises this form of music. They understand the improvisation that has always been at the heart of jazz and are finding new ways to blend contemporary music with traditional jazz sounds. 

Some, like Moses Molelekwa, won fans by resurrecting folk songs. He re-energised the harmonica and the characteristic sound of the ‘marabi’ piano, before his tragic death on 2001.

Other young jazz musicians, like Simphiwe Dana, Bokani Dyer, Tutu Puoane, Zamajobe Sithole and Siphokazi Ndinovuyo, are making waves on South Africa's jazz scene. Their sounds blur the lines between Afro-jazz, Afro-trad, Afro-gospel and soul.

Simphiwe Dana is a singer of exceptional talent. Her albums have managed to stay on top of international charts. Her 2010 release, Kulture Noir, received high praise locally and internationally.

Bokani Dyer, the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner for Jazz in South Africa, comes from a strong musical family. His trio became a regular fixture at the Green Dolphin restaurant in Cape Town before it closed down. He also enthralled audiences at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, where he played with Jimmy Dludlu.

Tutu Puoane is another exciting young talent on the South African jazz scene. She has performed extensively in South Africa with many great South African musicians. She leads her own quartet and is a guest vocalist for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. She recently released an album with this orchestra in honour of Miriam Makeba, called 'Mama Africa'.

The Gauteng Jazz Orchestra continues to be a fantastic showcase for young talent. Established through a partnership with the Music Academy of Gauteng’s Jazz Orchestra, it is made up of seasoned jazz performers and students who have graduated from jazz programmes around the country.

Also look out for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band. It is a product of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival, the most significant youth development initiative in jazz in South Africa.

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