1. Congratulations on your nomination for best video. How does it make you feel to be recognised by your peers in the industry in this way?
2. Tell us about your album and what the thinking behind it was.
The album fuses two of my major influences: Sophiatown Jazz and Motown Soul. It’s like having Miriam Makeba and Tina Turner jamming it up in the same studio! It’s mostly up beat music, with infectious songs like the title track Kwazibani, which seamlessly goes from a Mbaqanga to a Motown rhythm, the more Western pop influenced Ngu Banilo and Nontsokolo, a reggae-rock anthem (the song for which I got the SAMA nomination). Some of my songs are about serious issues like poverty, but they are presented in a festive way. This album was made to entertain – it captures my energy on stage and features my wonderful band from the Cape Town townships, The Lucky Charms. I worked with Ross Callum on this album, the UK producer who has worked on productions for John Legend and Elton John. He really knows how to mix a vocal!
3. You have a wonderful rags to riches story – share a bit of it with the readers?
I grew up in a shack in the township of Kwazhekele in Port Elizabeth with my mother, a domestic worker, and two siblings. Unfortunately my mom passed away when I was twelve of HIV/Aids. After finishing school, I got a job in a restaurant in Cape Town, where I was also required to sing in between serving tables. I was discovered at my church soon after that, and offered a music scholarship. At my graduation concert I was spotted by Universal Music, who offered me a recording contract.
4. How do you remain positive in the rat race?
I am part of a wonderful congregation in Khayelitsha, the Way of Life church. I go there to find peace. While I’m on the road, I make time to be quiet and reconnect with myself.
5. I believe you are dressing to kill at the SAMA’s this year. Tell us about your dress.
I discovered an incredibly gifted young designer from Cape Town, Arnreuby, I think he could be the next David Tlatle. He describes my dress as “a strapless floor length gown with a gold sequin bustier and multi-layered skirt in a dusty nude. A bright red shrug adds colour.” It’s beautiful!
6. What inspires you to create music?
Mostly my life and what happens around me. It’s my way of making sense of the world we live in.
7. Your video is stunning and well worth the nomination. How will you celebrate should you win?
If I win, I’ll be taking this award back to my community in Khayelitsha, who supported me through thick and thin all these years. This will be our greatest victory, it belongs to them!
8. What does the future hold for Nomfusi?
I’m off to Europe in mid June for a two week tour of Germany, Belgium and Norway, and then I’m back for a few shows in South Africa, and then off again to Portugal, England, France and Canada. I’m really looking forward to play at Womad (World of Music Art and Dance) in England. Peter Gabriel started the festival in the eighties and its where a lot of world famous musicians got discovered, like Youssou N’Dour and Angelique Kidjo. I’ll also be touring with Womad to Spain, Italy and New Zealand next year. I’m really hoping to play at Joy of Jazz and Arts Alive in Joburg on my return.
9. Who would most like to share a stage with in South Africa and internationally?
Locally Tandiswa Mazwai, Ringo and Hugh Masekela. Internationally Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin.