The soul of Mama Afrika meets the fire of Motown and Soul… in a pint-sized packet of dynamite. After a mere six years in the industry, and with over twenty international tours under her belt, Nomfusi has become one of South Africa’s most sought-after performers worldwide. Indeed, there is nothing small about the tiny songstress with the gigantic voice and tons of charm. With sheer will and determination, she has risen from the squalor of South African squatter camps to some of the finest stages of the world.
Likened by critics to a young Miriam Makeba with a twist of Tina Turner, the multiple SAMA and Metro FM Award nominee embraces both her African heritage and the sounds of Soul and Motown she grew up with. Like a purifying wild fire that cuts through the bone, her cathartic performances have been praised across the globe.
Areas of Representation: North & South America, Australia/New Zealand, UK
The soul of Mama Afrika meets the fire of Motown and Soul… in a pint-sized packet of dynamite. After a mere six years in the industry, and with over twenty international tours under her belt, Nomfusi has become one of South Africa’s most sought-after performers. Indeed, there is nothing small about the tiny songstress with the gigantic voice and tons of charm. With sheer will and determination, she has risen from the squalor of South African squatter camps to some of the major stages of the world. Likened by critics to a young Miriam Makeba with a twist of Tina Turner, the multiple SAMA and Metro FM Award nominee embraces both her African heritage and the sounds of Soul and Motown she grew up with. Like a purifying wild fire that cuts through the bone, her cathartic performances have been praised across the globe.
Nomfusi has given riveting performances across Europe and Canada at prestigious festivals such as WOMAD in England, performing with Angelique Kidjo at the Afrikadey Festival in Canada, and to an audience of more than 8000 at FMM Sines in Portugal, and Lugano Jazz Festival. Recently she opened for superstar Lionel Richie at Stimmen Festival in Loerrach, Germany. Nomfusi was chosen to portray the character of Miriam Makeba in “Long Walk To Freedom,” the film about the life of Nelson Mandela, Released in early 2014, it is, according to the Hollywood Reporter “the largest South African production ever mounted”.
The SAMA nominated singer, based in Johannesburg, is now counted among the top ten rising stars on ETV Showbiz Report in South Africa. She has been featured in more than fifty publications, including Drum (who gave her 5 stars for her debut album), Rolling Stones Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Destiny, and she has appeared on the cover of High Flyers, Mango Juice and The Sowetan newspaper. Nomfusi’s life story has been captured widely in the media. Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who discovered Bob Marley, Angelique Kidjo and U2, said of Nomfusi after viewing a touching documentary of her life and music: “What a terrific young artist, her genuine concern for her community and beyond comes through SO strongly.”
Nomfusi’s life story was described in Rolling Stone South Africa as “the sort of story Hollywood is bound to snap up.” She was born in the township of KwaZhakele in the Eastern Cape. Her single mother, Kwazibani (“Who Knows?” in English) raised her while her father languished in jail for 21 years. A domestic worker by day, Kwazibani was a sangoma (African medicine woman) with a gift for music. Nomfusi would accompany her mother to the weekly sangoma rituals (“Intlombe”) where Nomfusi would develop her musicality by dancing and singing for hours.
Tragically, in 1998, Nomfusi was suddenly orphaned at the age of twelve when her mother died of AIDS. Nomfusi’s aunt took them in, but she also died of the same disease three years later. With remarkable inner strength, Nomfusi turned her situation around to become one of South Africa’s brightest stars. Never one to pity herself, but teaching kids and adults “that life is about choices,” and that “one has to overcome the poverty of the mind first,” she has done outreach work at schools for vulnerable children in Soweto, Swaziland and Malawi. She’s been invited three times to serve on a panel at an annual symposium at The Afrikadey Festival in Calgary, Canada, to discuss the role of women and the arts in Africa. She has recently become an ambassador for MES, an NPO based in Hillbrow that helps homeless individuals get back on their feet.
Nomfusi, just as much a child of the soil as a woman of the world, cares deeply for her community, while not shying away from the world of glitz, glamour and success. As she sings in her anthem against poverty, “Nontsokolo,”: “Remember your sister, your brother, your mother and your neighbour. Don’t leave them behind. Go back, and make a difference.”
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“The Tinkerbell of Afropop and her nifty back-up band – Grandal, Godfrey, Colin, and Mark – blend Fifties soul-jazz with modern cool for a spectacular show of past meets present.” ROLLING STONE, SA
“A refreshing blast of energy.” (WOMAD UK) ~ DAMIEN RAFFERTY, UK
“A cross between Tina Turner and Miriam Makeba, Sophiatown meets Motown – Nomfusi is a rare musical gem with the ability to ignite fire in your soul, but also manages to soothe the very burning sensation you may feel.” – VOLUME, SA
“Unlike many of her more image- conscious peers, Nomfusi’s music has a vivacity, danceability and community awareness that’s clearly descended from the tradition of vocalists such as Dolly Rathebe.” – Gwen Ansell, jazz columnist, BUSINESS DAY, SA