3 Apr 2024 ///

Thandiswa Mazwai Premiers her Tiny Desk performance in a collaboration between NPR Music and globalFEST

Music makes the world go around – and Thandiswa Mazwai’s music truly makes the world a more vibrant and interconnected place. Dubbed the ‘Queen of South African Music’, Thandiswa’s music is celebrated for its powerful blend of traditional South African sounds with contemporary influences; particularly as one of the pioneers of Kwaito in the 1990s. Mazwai’s sonic expression touches on themes of love, identity, social justice, and the African experience, resonating deeply with audiences both in South Africa and around the world. So, it is a beautiful symphonic moment that on 1 April, Thandiswa and her band performed on NPR Music’s iconic ‘Tiny Desk’ platform in Washington D.C.

Ahead of Thandiswa’s forthcoming album, ‘Sankofa’, with the first single ‘Kulungile’, featuring Nduduzo Makhathini, set to be released on April 12 – Thandiswa’s performance in the iconic corner alcove of NPR Music’s HQ, is a deeply invigorating moment for African artistic expression. Thandiswa said of the show, “Tiny Desk was one of those dreams that came true for me and my fans. It was intimate and the team at NPR were extremely generous. Thank you to globalFEST for hooking us up. The show was shot on a snowy day in DC this January. They usually ask that performances are kept to about 15-18 mins. So we did about 5 songs, some of them shortened.” 

The performance is part of an annual collaboration between NPR music and globalFEST – an online music festival between the two spaces, with globalFEST focused on the expression of international music as accessible and celebrated, and NPR’s Tiny Desk as an iconic and intimate invitation into the live performances of artists across all genres and ranges. 

As the Tiny Desk report describes, “This phenomenal set starts with ‘Nizalwa Ngobani?’, translated from the Xhosa language to ‘Do you know where you come from?’ It’s dedicated to the ever-resilient people of South Africa. ‘I want to say to my people at home, thank you,’ she says. ‘I am known worldwide because of you.’ After, she sings a love song, ‘Ingoma,’ with the memorable hook ‘Ngoma we, ngoma we, ngoma we,’ which loosely translates to ‘You are a song that I never get tired of.’ and Thandiswa “dedicates the next song, ‘Children of the Soil,’ to all the people around the world who find themselves struggling for freedom. ‘This is our time to use our voices,’ she affirms. ‘This is the time for us to fight for freedom, wherever it is in the world.’ This song will be featured on her soon-to-be-released new album, Sankofa. And she finishes this set with the powerful ‘Abenguni’ and the catchy upbeat tune ‘Lahl’umlenze,’ with its resilient hook: ‘Why does it matter how I dance?’.”

Thandiswa Mazwai’s Tiny Desk polaroid, via @nprmusic IG

Thandiswa Mazwai via @thandiswamazwai IG

Thandiswa Mazwai’s influence extends beyond South Africa, as she has graced stages worldwide, performing at prestigious venues and events such as the FIFA 2010 World Cup Opening Ceremony, the Apollo Theatre, Radio City Hall, The Cannes Film Festival, Africa Express, BBC World Music Awards, TED, Afropunk, Carnegie Hall Citywide Festival, and Lincoln Centre, among others. Throughout her career, Mazwai has shared the stage with musical legends such as Salif Keita, Hugh Masekela, Busi Mhlongo, Stevie Wonder, Cesaria Evora, and Paul Simon, among many others. 

Thandiswa Mazwai’s impact on the music scene transcends borders, genres, and generations, making her an enduring figure in the cultural landscape of South Africa and beyond – cementing Thandiswa’s legacy as a musical luminary for the ages.

For more news, visit the Connect Everything Collective homepage www.ceconline.co.za

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