By Dare Media
Published November 17, 2010
Tu Nokwe, South Africa’s cultural icon, is set to embark on a “Journey of My Soul” series of musical performances aimed at bringing together business and cultural icons, renowned leaders, music lovers at Bassline to pay tribute to the nation’s own stars.
“Journey of My Soul” will present Tu Nokwe Gift Hampers to lucky ticket holders.The concert promises an unforgettable experience as Tu Nokwe will be joined on stage by a seasoned live band as well as surprise guests.
Tu Nokwe, a movie actress, singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist, is the
critically acclaimed musician and mentor of talents like Deborah Fraser, Leleti Khumalo, Ayanda Nhlangothi and Khanyo Maphumulo through the Amajika Youth And Children’s Arts Project.
She has been a performer, actress and singer for more than four decades performing to great acclaim locally and abroad.
Through Tu Nokwe’s “Journey of My Soul”, the music series will get audiences into her soul and the souls of her Special Guests/Friends and people she performed with over the years through music and dance.
The first concerts will be hosted on November 19, 2010 at Bassline in Newtown, Johannesburg, followed by a series of other shows that will run every month till June 2011.
The overall objective of the music series is to raise public recognition and celebration of our living musicians as cultural icons in a dignified way.
About Tu Nokwe
Tu Nokwe is a member of one of South Africa’s most famous musical families,
sometimes called the Jacksons of Africa. Five of the six family members have made music their life.
Tu Nokwe was born into a family of musicians. Her father, Alfred, was in a jazz swing band and her mother, Patty, was a soprano singer. All the children in the Nokwe household were taught how to sing by their mother and she introduced them to the music of Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbulu.
Tu Nokwe taught herself how to play the guitar by using two chairs, a string strung in between the chairs and a do-it-yourself book. When she finally managed to get a guitar, she wrote her first song, Relax. Together with her sister, Marilyn, and a friend, Nonhlanhla, they formed the Black Angels and recorded an album. Tu Nokwe also formed the group Amajika Youth Project, which teaches children music, dance and drama for self development. This was a successful project and some of the children in her
group ended up featuring in the Broadway Musical Sarafina, which she originally conceptualised with Mbongeni Ngema.
Tu Nokwe left South Africa for England and, during the filming of Shaka Zulu,returned to act as Shaka’s wife. After this stint in film, she left for New York where she studied music at the Manhattan School of Music.
Before her departure for the United States, Tu Nokwe had recorded her first solo album, Mind your own Business. During her stay in the USA, she recorded her thoughts in three journals that she translated into
songs that were released in the album, Inyakanyaka.In this album Tu Nokwe paid tribute to Princess Magogo, a great traditional songwriter. She has featured in many plays, has written her mother’s biography, ‘Singing The Times’, and has appeared in many television programmes.
Following the release of her 1996 hit album, “Inyakanyaka”, Tu Nokwe has continued to strive as a singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist. Her passion and love for children and community work is the driving force behind her music. And it has resulted in her latest album release entitled, “African Child”. This album was a project which took two years in the making. It was finally completed with a 13-track selection, 80% of which is Tu Nokwe’s own original material, intertwined witha few traditional African standards.
“Ilanga Emkhukhwini”, written by Tu Nokwe’s uncle, Joshua Mzimela, is a track about suffering, however, Tu Nokwe renamed it “Ilanga”, which means the sun (in the squatter camp), which gives the track a new meaning vidently the opposite of the original meaning intended.
“Mama Wam”, track 11, is based on a the hit song by Doris Day ‘Quesera”.
Tu Nokwe has taken this song and given it Zulu lyrics. It is a song known and loved by the young and the old alike.
“Letting Go” is a special tune for Tu Nokwe in that it came to her after the death of Moses Molelekwa and his wife Flo, and how it caused such sadness, especially for their young child. Tu felt a connection and realised there was meaning in it for her; in that in order to move on in life, one has to let go. This track was one of the last added to the album.
“Ngane Yakwethu” and “African Child/Bambelela” are original works inspired
by encouraging the birth of the African Renaissance.
Tu Nokwe describes her music as a New Age African Sound, spiritual, and inward looking with elements of Afro-jazz and funk. She also finds herself very moved by the drum and acoustic sound. All the tracks on the album are named in Zulu and English so that a wider audience are able to connect with the tracks.
“African Child” is sending a message to the quintessential African child: Listen to the music and you will find direction; you cannot go forward without going inward, hence the image on the cover of the child in the lotus position. And indeed, the message is an age-old African one: Go within! She was nominated in the category of Best Female Artist in the SAMAs & the British Magazine ‘Liner Notes’ as the best release from Africa.
She has travelled extensively on international tours with her band. Many places like America and Europe, especially England, have become her second homes.In all these counties, she has collaborated with musicians in songwriting, performance and music workshops.
Looking back to the musical beginnings, Bheki Mseleku’s imprint subtly marks Tu Nokwe’s musical life. He used to live with the Nokwes in Kwa-Mashu; theirs was one of the houses that had electricity and more importantly,they also had a piano.
Her travels took her to and from London for almost a year, appearing in between as Shaka’s wife, Phampata, in the movie, Shaka Zulu. From there,it was off to New York, where she went for auditions at the Manhattan School of Music ‘just to check where I was with my craft’.
Asked what key she sang in, Tu Nokwe wasn’t sure but asked them to listen to a blues arrangement with African lyrics. On the spot she was offered a scholarship that would pay half her tuition. This is the same school that boasts Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela as alumni.
Whilst music is the thread that holds Tu Nokwe’s life together, performance is really what defines her. In her short life, Tu Nokwe has featured in six plays, including “Sheila’s Day”, “Singing The Times” and the biography of her mother’s life that she wrote, starred in numerous TV programmes and appeared on five albums. She has embarked on a new passion, ‘isihlahla sobuntu’, a programme to preserve indigenous instruments and traditional values.
Tu Nokwe was nominated for three categories in the SA FNB Awards for: Best Video/Best Female Performance/Best Song of The Year.