I had the privilege of watching Swazi Dlamini perform live once again last week. She performed songs from her debut album, My First Love, which was released in 2003 at the Joburg Theatre and as usual, she impressed everyone there. I got to thinking about what it is that makes Swazi one of the best performers in our country.
1. Paying your dues
Swazi started her career in Joyous Celebration where she not only lead, but also sang as part of the choir for other lead singers for many years. Anyone who has ever been in a group knows that it takes humility to know your part and play it diligently.
2. Addressing social issues
During her set, Swazi addressed the recent xenophobic attacks and dedicated her song, Ungbani, to the victims and to call on South Africans to stop these violent acts. Having said that she uses her art for freedom of expression, she also used it for something even bigger than her when addressing the social issue of xenophobia.
3. Paying tribute to those that paved the way
Swazi is married to Tshepo Mngoma, who is the son of South African music legend Sibongile Khumalo. She paid tribute to her mother-in-law by performing a cover version of Little Girl from her Ancient Nights album.
Apart from her great song writing and production skills, Swazi also has a great voice and impeccable skills when it comes to improve. It is this skill that impressed many as Swazi sang her heart out with new adlibs and arrangements added to make the old songs fresh without stealing any of the nostalgia.
5. Personal anecdotes
Throughout the show Swazi also shared personal stories about how the songs came about, like Childhood Memories which reminds her of her sassy Xhosa grandmother, as well as how the title of her first album was inspired by her first child’s name, Thandolwami. These all helped the audience have a deeper understanding and appreciation for them.
Swazi plans on performing songs from her sophomore album, Dance With Me, in June and I will be front and centre to experience her live once again.
Follow Swazi Dlamini on Twitter @SwaziDlamini and watch her perform Yekel’ Ukuganga below:
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