We celebrate South Africa’s next generation of jazz and neo-soul maestros.
As the sounds of jazz and neo-soul intertwine with the heartbeat of South Africa, a new generation of artists is bringing forth a symphony that resonates far beyond our borders.
In a nation where jazz is more than just music, these artists are the torchbearers of a rich cultural legacy, infusing it with fresh perspectives and contemporary flair.
As their melodies echo across the diverse landscapes of our country, these young musos ensure that the heart of made-in-Africa jazz and neosoul beats stronger than ever.
Nalu: a vocal enchantress
Nalu is a spellbinding force in the realm of neo-soul. Her stirring vocals and emotionally charged lyrics create an intimate connection with listeners. With each note, she invites us into her world, where vulnerability and strength coexist in harmonious balance.
Her recent minimalist song, ‘Sweet Nothing’, made waves online and became an overnight hit. The Gen Z artist has been learning to romanticise her life while balancing being a full-time corporate girl and independent artist. So let the girl have her flowers! She’s a whole VIBE!
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Zoë Modiga: the soul sister
Palesa Modiga, known on stage as Zoë, is a storyteller who effortlessly fuses genres to create a musical narrative that transcends conventional boundaries. With two acclaimed albums, Inganekwane and Yellow: The Novel, this modern musical muse has really set herself apart. Her powerful yet soothing voice, coupled with thought-provoking lyrics, propels Zoë Modiga into the forefront of the neo-soul movement, where authenticity and expression reign supreme.
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Moneoa: neo-soul elegance
With four albums under her belt and five nominations at the 2014 World Music Awards, Moneoa Moshesh has brought a touch of elegance to the industry, channelling emotions through velvety vocals and evocative storytelling. Although she’s been on a ‘musical hiatus’ recently, her ability to capture the essence of love and life in her music makes Moneoa a star in the neo-soul constellation and a performer emerging artists can draw inspiration from.
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Lwanda Gogwana: trumpeting talent
This jazz trumpet virtuoso and composer commands attention with every note. He’s played at Jazz Sundays at Sanctuary Mandela, Joy of Jazz and the Back To Live Festival. His expressive playing style tells stories of resilience and triumph, capturing the spirit of Mzansi and reflecting a deep connection to the cultural heartbeat of the nation. Many deem him the ‘musicologist’ of the contemporary SA jazz scene.
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Afrotraction: the groove master
Mzwandile Moya, aka Afrotraction, embodies the essence of neo-soul groove, creating music that is both soulful and danceable, and proving that neo-soul is not just a genre but a feeling. His infectious rhythms and heartfelt melodies are a standout in the contemporary music scene.
The self-taught pianist and bassist, who sings in Siswati, has collaborated with several SA musicians across various genres. His album For The Lovers won a SAMA for Best R&B/Soul/Reggae Album, and Relationships was the best-selling album in South Africa in 2017.
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Thandi Ntuli: jazz at her fingertips
Thandi is a jazz singer, composer and pianist extraordinaire, navigating the keys with finesse and infusing her compositions with a distinctive blend of tradition and innovation. Her work reflects a deep understanding of the genre’s roots, while pushing jazz forward into uncharted territory, marking her as a trailblazer in the contemporary music landscape.
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Words by: Nozuko Tshangela
Illustrations: gallo/getty images. Photos: supplied/Instagram