It has been seven years since we heard from Ibokwe singer Thandiswa Mazwai, and if her latest release is anything to go by, the wait has been worth it.
Yesterday, the singer, 40, confirmed that she had signed to recording label Universal Music, while also sharing her latest serving, called Belede, a jazz tribute album named after her late mother.
This is her third album and her first studio album in seven years.
“After being in the music industry for a long time, sticking to one genre gets a little boring and you want to kind of explore different things,” Mazwai said
“It’s taken me this long because I got used to taking my time – even with Bongo Maffin we never used to make an album every year.
“I got used to being the kind of artist that isn’t under any pressure to stay popular or current.
“I got used to being the artist that will make something five years from now and it would be well considered, have a story.
“It’s mostly about not bowing to that pressure to release all the time.”
Mazwai began working on the ninetrack album in January with drummer Ayanda Sikade, pianist Nduduzo Makhathini and bassist Herbie Tsoaeli.
She said her intention with the album was to “pay tribute to some of the most rebellious and monumental musicians of my time” such as Hugh Masekela, Busi Mhlongo, Letta Mbulu and Miriam Makeba.
Her first single to be heard on air this week is Jikijela, a song written by Caiphus Semenya for Mbulu which Mazwai said was dedicated to the Fees Must Fall movement.
She also does a rendition of Mhlongo’s Wahazulwa and performs West Wind, which was recorded by Makeba, Mbulu and Nina Simone.
The album will be in stores on November 25.
“Bra Hugh had said to me about five years ago that I should do an album of covers of South African music because it’s a great tradition everywhere in the world that singers redo and remake each other’s music,” Mazwai said.
But Mazwai is not limiting herself – she is heading to Mali to record another album in Salif Keta’s studios which she said would be “releasing in the next six to eight months”.