by Tripatini staff

 

Having released her third album, Kulture Noir, last summer, Simphiwe Dana, a 30-year-old preacher’s daughter from rural Transkei, has become one of South Africa’s top musical sensations in just half a decade. Often compared to the late, great Miriam Makeba, she sings both in English and in her native Xhosa, mixing traditional Bantu musical idioms with contemporary jazz, gospel, and blues influences… and it’s all on gorgeous display in this song/video, Ndiredi, released back in 2004 as part of her debut album, Zandisile. Both song and video feel as cutting-edge and sophisticated as anything coming out of Western recording studios, and still very traditionally African — no mean trick to pull off. Dana doesn’t shy from the gritty and the frank when dealing with social issues in a South Africa where, despite the banishment of apartheid this past decade and a half, poverty and dysfunction among the non-white population are still rampant. But these lyrics are more on the uplifting side — evocative even to those of us who can’t understand them — speaking of persevering in the face of adversity (“almost got swallowed by the abyss…almost forgot the cause”) and working to change the world. Paired with images both futuristic and mystical, it all adds up to a final product that’s both powerful and entertaining.

 

 

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