South Africa

New York to be wrapped in the sounds of Thandiswa Mazwai’s new album this weekend

Thandiswa Mazwai will be performing at Lincoln Centre in New York on Sunday and the muso who is expected to release her anticipated album this year says New York will be wrapped up in the sounds of her upcoming album, Sankofa this weekend.

“So many people that are involved in the making of my upcoming album Sankofa are also performing in New York this coming weekend,” said Mazwai.

US singer-songwriter and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, who produced a few ditties on Sankofa, will be doing a residency at the Blue Note, South African pianist and jazz artist Nduduzo Makhathini – who is also playing the New York winter jazz fest this weekend – has made contribution to the upcoming album.

“One of my new favourites Julius Rodriguez who plays piano on some of the songs will also be performing,” averred Mazwai. The Zabalaza singer will be one of the headliners at GlobalFEST, which makes a return for its 21st year to Lincoln Centre.

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Sanfoka the album

The word Sankofa is derived from the Akan Tribe of Ghana that can be translated into “go back and get it”. The essence of the meaning symbolises going back, so one can move forward.

In a sit-down with Paul Mnisi and DJ Sbu last year on the podcast House of Sankofa, Mazwai said she dug into the International Library of African Music (ILAM) at Rhodes University which is an archive of African sounds.

“They gave me access to some of the archive about 10, 15 years ago and I’ve, kind of, been sitting with this stuff at home looking at it. But finally, last year [2022] it made sense what I was going to do with it,” said the Bongo Maffin member. Mazwai said she mostly took Xhosa music from the library.

“On a personal note it’s also a way for me to be able to go back and fetch whatever has been lost from all the losses-Bra Hugh[Masekela], Mam’Busi [Mhlongo] even Mam’Winnie [Mandela], Zinzi [Mandela]. Losses we had during Covid as well.”

In the interview, which was recorded in 2023 Mazwai said she was creatively inactive throughout the pandemic due to depression.

“During Covid my stance was total and utter depression,” she said. But as soon as the lockdown restrictions were done away with, she found her creative juices and reached out to peers who she could bounce ideas off.

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Tiny Desk meets globalFEST

Founded in 2003, GlobalFEST is one of the most dynamic global music platforms in North America, an acclaimed annual festival and catalytic non-profit organisation for curators, artists, and the performing arts field. Mazwai is part of a slew of artists that are on the line up.

“We look forward to heading back to NYC with GlobalFEST and can’t wait to create sacred spaces for healing and freedom at the world renowned Lincoln Centre,” she averred.

After hosting its 20th anniversary at Lincoln Centre’s newly-renovated David Geffen Hall, GlobalFEST returns there with a new line-up curated by festival co-directors Bill Bragin, Isabel Soffer, and Shanta Thake, also Ehrenkranz Chief Artistic Officer at Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts, plus guest curator Zion Jackson.

One of GlobalFEST’s partners is NPR Music, which is popular for its Tiny Desk Concerts. Since 2020 NPR teamed up with GlobalFEST for an online music festival we call Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST. Last year’s Tiny Desk Meets GlobalFEST was hosted by African pop star Angélique Kidjo.

Last month, Mazwai had her followers gripped in excitement when she announced in a now deleted tweet, that she’ll be performing at the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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