Khu­malo has a new breath of life

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­

Si­bongile Khu­malo took years to re­lease her lat­est stu­dio al­bum due to fi­nan­cial and artis­tic stum­bling blocks which, she says, held her back.

Her lat­est of­fer­ing, called Breath of Life, comes seven years since her last al­bum and 20 years since the re­lease of her sem­i­nal col­lec­tion, An­cient Evenings.

“As an in­de­pen­dent artist, it is not al­ways pos­si­ble to go into the stu­dio to record,” she says of the fi­nan­cial chal­lenges. “Crit­i­cally, on a cre­ative level I did not feel that I had the kind of ma­te­rial that I wanted to share with the world. I kept on post­pon­ing un­til just over a year ago when the im­pulse was just too strong.”

How­ever, City Press was told by two sources close to Khu­malo that an­other rea­son she was held back was her “ances­tral call­ing”. She trained to be­come an in­yanga, a fact that only her clos­est friends and fam­ily know about.

How­ever, Khu­malo will nei­ther con­firm nor deny this, say­ing: “I re­ally don’t want to talk about this. It is per­sonal.”

The cel­e­brated vo­cal­ist said that al­though she had not spent a lot of time in the stu­dio dur­ing those seven years, she con­tin­ued to work as a per­form­ing artist and has kept her cre­ative juices flow­ing.

“If any­thing, I found I had a lot more free­dom to do what I wanted and needed to do,” she said.

Khu­malo is billed to per­form at the Stan­dard Bank Joy of Jazz fes­ti­val in Septem­ber at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre.

She will be per­form­ing along­side in­ter­na­tional stars such as award-win­ning pi­anist José James, tenor big sax­o­phon­ist Hous­ton Per­son and many oth­ers. One thing that makes Khu­malo’s new al­bum spe­cial is that the ti­tle track is ded­i­cated to her grand­son Lethabo. “Lethabo was born five and a half years ago. The song came to me as I was try­ing to put him to sleep one day when he was an in­fant. He wouldn’t sleep, I couldn’t re­mem­ber a sin­gle lul­laby and I started to sing a melody that came to me. The fol­low­ing day at the re­hearsal, I sang this lul­laby and the song was born,” she ex­plains. Khu­malo says each song on her new al­bum has its own spe­cial qual­ity. “I would like to leave it to the lis­ten­ing au­di­ence to de­cide for it­self. Suf­fice it to say that the­mat­i­cally it fo­cuses on sub­jects of grat­i­tude and heal­ing.” Khu­malo is a highly ac­claimed ex­po­nent of jazz and opera, and has been as­cribed with ti­tles such as “doyenne” and “queen of song”. “I’m con­stantly aware of the gift that has been be­queathed to me, by my par­ents, an­ces­tors and God. I’m grate­ful for the sup­port and the love that has been shown to me by the fam­ily, clan and fans. This makes me un­der­stand that I’m not alone in what I do.”


Si­bongile Khu­malo

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