By Novell Zwange – JOHANNESBURG – Tuno Music is proud to announce that South Africa’s cultural icon, Tu Nokwe is set to embark on a “Journey of My Soul” series of musical performances aimed at bringing together business and cultural icons, renowned leaders, music lovers to Bassline, Newtown on 19 November 2010 to pay tribute to the nations own stars.
“Journey of My Soul” will present Tu Nokwe Gift Hampers to lucky ticket holders.The concert promises an unforgettable experience as Tu Nokwe will be joined on stage by a seasoned live band as well surprise guests.
Tu Nokwe, a movie actress, singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist, is the critically acclaimed musician and mentor of talents like, Deborah Fraser, Leleti Khumalo, Ayanda Nhlangothi, Khanyo Maphumolo through the Amajika Youth And Children’s Arts Project.
She has been a performer, actress and singer for over four decades performing to great acclaim locally and abroad.
Through Tu Nokwe’s “Journey of My Soul” the music series will get audiences into her soul and the souls of her Special Guest/Friends and people she performed with over the years through music and dance.
The concerts will be from November 2010-June 2011, and will be hosted monthly at Bassline, in Newtown, Johannesburg.
The overall objective of the music series is to raise public recognition and celebration of our living musicians as cultural icons.
Tu Nokwe is a member of one of South Africa’s most famous musical families, sometimes called the Jacksons of Africa. Five of the 6 family members have made music their life.
She was born into a family of musicians. Her father, Alfred, was in a jazz swing band and her mother, Patty, was a soprano singer. All the children in the Nokwe household were taught how to sing by their mother and she introduced them to the music of Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbulu.
Tu taught herself how to play the guitar by using two chairs, a string strung in between the chairs and a do-it-yourself book. When she finally managed to get a guitar, she wrote her first song Relax . Together with her sister, Marilyn, and a friend, Nonhlanhla, they formed the Black Angels and recorded an album. Tu also formed the group Amajika Youth Project, which teaches children music, dance and drama. This was a successful project and some of the children in her group ended up featuring in Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina.
Tu left South Africa for England and, during the filming of Shaka Zulu, returned to act as Shaka’s wife. After this stint in film, she left for New York where she studied music at the Manhattan School of Music. Before her departure for the United States, Tu had recorded her first solo album Mind your own business. During her stay in the States, she recorded her thoughts in three journals that she translated into songs that were released in the album Inyakanyaka. In this album Tu paid tribute to Princess Magogo, a great traditional songwriter. She has featured in many plays, has written her mother’s biography and appeared in many television programmes.
Following the release of her 1996 hit album, “Inyakanyaka”, Tu has continued to strive as a singer, guitarist, composer and lyricist. Her passion and love for children and community work is the driving force behind her music. And it has resulted in her latest album release, entitled “African Child”. This album was a project 2-years in the making. It is finally complete with a 13 track selection, 80% of which is Tu’s own original material, intertwined with a few traditional African standards.
“Ilanga Emkhukhwini”, written by Tu’s uncle Joshua Mzimela, is a track about suffering, however, Tu renamed it “Ilanga”, which means the sun (in the squatter camp), which gives the track a new meaning evidently the opposite of the original meaning intended.
“Mama Wam”, track 11, is based on a the hit song by Doris Day “Quesera…”. Tu has taken this song and given it Zulu lyrics. It is a song known and loved by young and old alike.
“Letting Go” is a special tune for Tu in that it came to her after the death of Moses Molelekwa & his wife Flo, and how it caused such sadness, especially for their young child. Tu felt a connection and realised there was meaning in it for her; in that in order to move on in life, one has to let go. This track was one of the last added to the album.
“Ngane Yakwethu” and “African Child / Bambelela” are original works inspired by encouraging the birth of the African Renaissance.
Tu describes her music as a New Age African Sound, spiritual, and inward looking with elements of Afro-jazz and funk. She also finds herself very moved by the drum and acoustic sound. All the tracks on the album are named in Zulu and English so that a wider audience are able to connect with the tracks.
“African Child” is sending a message to the quintessential African child: Listen to the music and you will find direction; you cannot go forward without going inward, hence the image on the cover of the child in the lotus position. And indeed, the message is an age-old African one: Go within! She was nominated in the category of Best Female Artist in the SAMAs.
She has traveled extensively on international tours with her band. Many places like America, Europe and England have become her second homes. In all these counties, she has collaborated with musicians in song writing, performance and music workshops.
Looking back to the musical beginnings, Bheki Mseleku”s imprint subtly marks Tu”s musical life. He used to live with the Nokwes in Kwa-Mashu; theirs was one of the houses that had electricity and more importantly, they also had a piano.
Her travels took her to and from London for almost a year, appearing in between as Shaka”s wife, Phampata, in the movie Shaka Zulu. From there, it was off to New York, where she went for auditions at the Manhattan School of Music “just to check where I was with my craft”.
Asked what key she sang in, Tu wasn”t sure but asked them to listen to a blues arrangement with African lyrics. On the spot she was offered a scholarship that would pay half her tuition. This is the same school that boasts Jonas Gwangwa and Hugh Masekela as alumni.
Whilst music is the thread that holds Tu”s life together, performance is really what defines her. In her short life, Tu has featured in 6 plays, including “Sheila”s Ray” and “Singing The Times”, the biography of her mother”s life that she wrote, starred in numerous TV programmes and appeared on 5 albums. It”s like her biography says – Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist, Actress, Teacher, … Tu was nominated for three categories in the SA FNB Awards for: Best Video / Best Female Performance / Best Song of The Year.