The third act to be announced for Design Indaba Music 2015, Nongoma is a welcome addition to the burgeoning contemporary music scene in South Africa. This versatile vocalist truly lives up to her name, which roughly translated from Zulu means “mother of song”.
Full name Nongoma Ndlovu, her roots lie in R&B, jazz, soul and gospel, but she is proving herself to be a multi-dimensional artist with her evolution into more electronic sounds as part of Spoek Mathambo and DJ Spoko’s Fantasma project.
This young woman’s musical experience has been fuelled by her exposure to international influences. Born in Germany, Nongoma spent her formative years in Switzerland where she began writing at the age of 10, ultimately developing a sound that flirted with R&B vocals, warm jazz-club melodies and layered acoustic melanges.
Having led a highly respected gospel group in Switzerland, her powerful stage presence melds well with a voice that is reminiscent of legends gone by. Since her first album, In the Mirror, she and her sister Nandi have been contributing their voices to Fantasma’s debut album FreeLove, due for release by Soundway Records in March. The collective of South African musicians recently released “Want Your Love”, which splices Ndlovu’s soulful vocals into a choppy ‘80s-influenced track.
Nongoma’s versatility on vocals is a noteworthy experience, particularly on our featured track, “Voices”. Her entrancing, earthy intro is fraught with the anticipation of an almost tribal beat, with tentative, shivering cymbals illuminating the sparseness of this unreleased acoustic offering. With a scintillating a capella, we’re met with yawning, crooning and humming that falls together to make an intriguing collection of resonating voices. Nongoma takes us to the next level with a drumbeat that scatters like raindrops, emulating the cleansing, spirited effects of summer showers.
Joining Design Indaba Music 2015 with her session band at Design Indabar on Thursday, 26 February, Nongoma is on the brink of breaking boundaries, with a mild yet seasoned edge that will add a much-needed female energy to South Africa’s young creative scene.