After a mere six years in the industry, Afro-soul star Nomfusi has become one of South Africa’s most sought-after export products. With over twenty international tours under her belt.
Nomfusi has given riveting performances across Europe and Canada at prestigious festivals such as WOMAD in England, performing with Angelique Kidjo at the Afrikadey Festival in Canada, and to an audience of more than 8000 at FMM Sines in Portugal and Lugano Jazz Festival. Recently she opened for super star Lionel Richie at Stimmen Festival in Loerrach. Nomfusi was chosen to portray the character of Miriam Makeba in the long-awaited film about the life of Nelson Mandela, “Long Walk To Freedom.” The film, which was released in early 2014,is according to the Hollywood Reporter “be the largest South African production ever mounted”.
The SAMA nominated singer, who is based in Johannesburg now was counted under the top ten rising stars on ETV Showbiz Report in South Africa. She has been featured in more than fifty publications, including Drum (who gave her 5 stars for her debut album), Rolling Stones Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Destiny, and she has appeared on the cover of High Flyers, Mango Juice and The Sowetan newspaper. Nomfusi’s life story has been captured widely in the media. Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who discovered Bob Marley, Angelique Kidjo and U2 said of Nomfusi after viewing a touching documentary of her life and music: “What a terrific young artist, her genuine concern for her community and beyond comes through SO strongly.”
Not one to just stand behind a microphone and sing, the self-taught singer and songwriter has become well known for her untamed stage performances all over the world. In July 2010 on a coast-to-coast tour of Canada, a critic described her as “an absolute riot to watch and hear.” UK critic Damian Rafferty described her performance at WOMAD as “a refreshing blast of energy.” The Swazi Observer, after witnessing her tour de force at the Bushfire Festival 2011, named her “The best artist in the overall line-up” and Sol Magazine in Portugal named her “The top act of the day” after performing to thousands at the Festival Musicas do Mondo.
Radio BR2 called her “The top festival recommendation” of Bardentreffen 2014
Nomfusi’s life story was described in Rolling Stone South Africa as “the sort of story Hollywood is bound to snap up.” She was born in the township of KwaZhakele in the Eastern Cape. Her single mother, Kwazibani (“Who Knows?” in English) raised her while her father languished in jail for 21 years. A domestic worker by day, Kwazibani was a sangoma (African medicine woman) with a gift for music. Nomfusi would accompany her mother to the weekly sangoma rituals (“Intlombe”) where Nomfusi would develop her musicality by dancing and singing for hours.
Tragically, in 1998, Nomfusi was suddenly orphaned at the age of twelve when her mother died of AIDS. Nomfusi’s aunt took them in, but she also died of the same disease three years later. With remarkable inner strength, Nomfusi turned her situation around to become one of South Africa’s brightest stars. Never one to pity herself, but teaching kids and adults “that life is about choices,” and that “one has to overcome the poverty of the mind first,” she has done outreach work at schools for vulnerable children in Soweto, Swaziland and Malawi. She’s been invited three times to serve on a panel at an annual symposium at The Afrikadey Festival in Calgary, Canada, to discuss the role of women and the arts in Africa. She has recently become an ambassador for MES, an NPO based in Hillbrow that helps homeless individuals get back on their feet.
Nomfusi, just as much a child of the soil as a woman of the world, cares deeply for her community, while not shying away from the world of glitz, glamour and success. As she sings in her anthem against poverty, “Nontsokolo,”: “Remember your sister, your brother, your mother and your neighbour. Don’t leave them behind. Go back, and make a difference.”