Music Friday: Sonic Lockdowns

There is so much fresh music that has been released during this COVID-19 lockdown period, and I want us to use this platform as a space to keep adding onto the archives some of the wonderful lockdown moments of creativity.

  1. Lethiwe Sithole’s debut body of work, an EP titled Bambelela, was released independently on digital platforms in September 2020. Sithole started her professional music career in 2019 when she released her first single titled ‘victory’ on digital platforms. The EP that followed caught the attention of Collen Zondo, a prominent Radio DJ on Gagasi FM. Zondo then insisted to have the EP introduced to his listeners five days later, on his Afro-Pop show. The title of the EP ‘Bambelela’ means ‘Hold on’. According to Lethiwe: “It’s a message of encouragement to everyone including myself to hold on and never give up on our dreams and the vision that God has placed in our lives.”

Background: Lethiwe Sithole is a singer and song writer, originally from a small village called Ezimfabeni, which is in Emahlabithini in Ulundi. She grew up in various areas of Northern KZN including Empangeni, Kwa-Nongoma, Melmoth, and Ulundi where she competed her high school in Masibumbane High School. She grew up attending traditional Zion churches, where she was exposed to African traditional music, from a young age. After completing her matric, she went on to study Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand. She started her working career in 2008, as a Graduate Engineer and developed until she was in a Middle Management position, in one of the biggest coal mines in the country. Her passion for music drove her to make a U-turn in her career and pursue a career in music.

  1. Thembelihle Dunjana’s two-part album, Intyatyambo (a flower in Xhosa) comprises of soulful R&B songs (Part 1) and Jazzy songs (Part 2), dominated by the musician’s piano skills. The debut album was released on Sunday, 20 December 2020, under 2176994 Records Dk. I normally play part one of the album during the day and part two in the evening and it gracefully takes me to Lala Land!

Background: Thembelihle Dunjana is a young pianist who was born in one of South Africa’s historical townships, Gugulethu (Cape Town). Dunjana started playing piano at the age of about 11 years old. With the classical teaching she had at the time, her musical curiosity was somewhat inhibited. She later found herself taking a large interest in improvisation and jazz and has since graduated at the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Music (BMUS) degree, specialising in Jazz. She has performed at the Grahamstown festival, Cape Town fringe festival, Olso Jazz festival and at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with the Delft Big band!

Thembelihle Dunjana has a live performance on 26 February 2021 at 19H30, that promises a double deal at Jazz in the Native Yards, in Gugulethu, ngakwa-Mzoli. This will be her first show after lockdown in 2021, where she will be showcasing this latest double album. In a short interview, Thembelihle told jazz scribe and reviewer Carol M Marten that: “#Part 1 of the Album  deals with R&B and Soul, expressed through harmonic overlays of her vocals accompanied by her trio of zealots including drummer Tefo Mahola and electric bassist Grant Van Rooyen.  #Part2 resonates with South African instrumental styles of improvisation, with the characteristic ‘jazz’ heard in the 4th and 5th chords in the lower scale register, or what Dunjana calls ‘trading fourths.” Carol added: “I preferred Album #2, an instrumental album, which showcases Dunjana’s journey with chords, rhythms, and piano runs, all which allow her four band members to express their own wizardry, including two seasoned soloists of note: Tshegofatso Matlou on a lilting alto saxophone and Muneeb Hermans on trumpet.”

  1. Yallunder’s Uthando Lwam is an EP that was released on 13 November 2020 via a music label called 1020 Cartel. It is as soulful as Brenda Mtambo’s Iphupho Lami. Her voice sounds so amazing, stamping the fact that she is a classically trained Afro-Soul singer.

According to Madzadza Miya of Okay Africa (2020), Uthando Lwam comes after the stunning vocal performance and impressive song writing Yallunder displayed on her label’s compilation iSambulo, where she appeared on three songs including her debut single “Ndinovalo“. In this album, Yallunder bares her heart on the 6-track EP, and features Sjava, Nue_Sam and Inno Motong in her journey of relating the roller coaster journey of love: from falling in love too quickly and getting heartbroken, to moving on after a failed relationship and finding joy in a new partner. My favourite songs includes: (a) The title and opening track ‘Uthando Lwam’, which sees the singer speaking on the enduring and conquering nature of love A; (b) ‘Iphutha’ featuring Nue_Sam, which is a song about “having trusted someone with all your heart, only to find that their intentions were different“, as she put it at the EP’s launch, which was hosted the night before the EP release; Impilo Iyaqhubeka (life carries on) and Ndavuya featuring Inno Motong. Follow her on twitter (@Yallunder) and book her via e-mail at: