What is something that you are grateful for today? While you think of something, I’ll go first. I am grateful for the release of Ukubonga (Gratitude), the wonderful new album by Lorraine Klaasen and Mongezi Ntaka.
South African singer Lorraine Klaasen and South African guitarist, composer, musical director and producer Mongezi Ntaka have collaborated to create a powerful collection of songs by some of Southern Africa’s most celebrated singers and composers.
They wanted to show gratitude to the artists who came before them and endured some of the most horrendous experiences while creating the music genre we now call South African Township music.
Township music is the soundtrack of South Africa and much of the Southern African region and Lorraine and Mongezi wanted to raise awareness of this unique and timeless musical culture.
At the heart of this album are stories of African romantic courtships, wedding songs, social and political commentary and cultural pride. Each track is bursting with heart, soul and history – a true blessing for the ears!
We had the opportunity to speak to Mongenzi ahead of the release of this superb album…
Which musicians first made you fall in love with music?
The Dark City Sisters.
How did you meet and start collaborating?
Lorraine had traveled to Washington, DC to perform at the South African Embassy and she asked my group whether we were available to back her up.
What do you think is the most powerful thing about Township music?
Township music is the soundtrack of South Africa, and it was also the music that sustained black people’s struggle against apartheid but also played a role in uniting the races in South Africa.
What was your favourite thing about creating the album?
I really enjoyed being in the studio with just Lorraine. We were able to record the music without having to worry about any distractions or hiccups because Township music is in our blood.
Why was it so important to you to record every track on the album in one take?
We decided to record all the tracks on this album because we wanted to keep the imperfections of the recording and maintain the vulnerability that comes with a bare sound.
What do you want people to take away from listening to your music?
Just discover music and stories from faraway places.
Can you tell us about the best live show that you have ever played?
I don’t know whether we have the best show we ever played. All shows have their own character and it’s very hard to choose the best show out of thousands.
Do you have a dream venue or festival that you’d love to perform at?
Not really. Every venue is a dream venue for us. The audience is different, and the sound is always different, so we just enjoy every show we do.
By Eveline Vouillemin ©