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Nokukhanya Dlamini takes centre stage in December

Gospel and jazz artist Nokukhanya Dlamini is taking centre stage next month to share some of her favourite numbers.
Image supplied: Gospel and jazz artist Nokukhanya Dlamini
Image supplied: Gospel and jazz artist Nokukhanya Dlamini

“I can’t wait to connect with Joburg audiences and share what is close to my heart. I will be introducing some of my new songs while also performing music that I have done along my journey and in doing so paying tribute to those people who are close to my heart,” Dlamini said.

Dlamini, who grew up in Kwa-Zulu Natal, says she has always loved to perform: “I remember at school assemblies, I would sing my heart out, making sure I was heard over and above the rest of the pupils. My mom sang in the church choir but no one in my family had ever been a professional singer before me. I have to say that I believe my vocal gift is something God-given.”

Her first big break came when she was invited to become part of the legendary Gospel group Family Factory. This led her to performing with them and 1980s pop group Toto. She was also part of the Michael Jackson tour of South Africa.

She then became an in-demand session musician, singing backup (both live and on recordings) for many giants of the domestic industry including Sibongile Khumalo and Gloria Bosman before coming into her own with performances at events and productions such as The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, President Mbeki's 80th birthday and The Woman King soundtrack to name a few.

Dlamini pays tribute to Khumalo and Bosman for helping her explore her creative capabilities. It was with Bosman that she tried out her songwriting skills, co-writing a track off the album, The Many Faces of Gloria Bosman.

“Sibongile was a joy to work with. She helped train my voice and has always been very giving to me. Gloria was the same – she first encouraged me to skat on stage, simply saying during a live show ‘and on vocals, Nokukhanya Dlamini’ and I had to improvise into the mic. It taught me a lot.”

Dlamini’s debut album Uyinkosi Yami was followed up with Tribute to You, which united her with the production, song writing and playing talents of South African Music Award winner Themba Mkhize. The result is a recording that’s enchanting, full of arresting songs that linger long in the consciousness of listeners.

While jazz is an overriding musical influence, Dlamini is also at home in more traditional material, breathing life into roots music in a way that’s utterly fresh.

An Evening With Nokukhanya Dlamini takes place at The John Kani Theatre at The Market Theatre on 3 December at 6.30pm. Tickets cost R200 and are available here.

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