"Her voice is bigger than mine, but she‘s smaller than my trumpet. The last time we invited her she stole the show from us.” - Hugh Masekela
"An ABSOLUTE riot to watch and hear .” - Roots ‘n Blues Festival, Canada Blues Festival, Canada
""Only a few artists have the ability to wow an audience as much before Lionel Richie as Nomfusi did" ” - Markus Muffler Stimmen Festival
She was born in the township of KwaZakhele in the Eastern Cape and raised by her single mother named Kwazibani (which means “Who Knows?” in Xhosa) while her father was serving a 21-year prison sentence. A domestic worker by day, Kwazibani was a “Sangoma” or “African medicine woman” with a natural gift for music. Nomfusi would accompany her mother to weekly Sangoma rituals known as “Intlombe,” where she soon developed a love for performing and crafted her artistic identity by dancing and singing for hours.
Tragically in 1998, Nomfusi was suddenly orphaned at age twelve when she lost her mother to HIV/AIDS. Nomfusi’s aunt took her and her siblings in, but sadly also succumbed to the same deadly disease three years later. Undeterred by the hand she was dealt at such a young age, Nomfusi turned her situation around to become one of South Africa's brightest, most recognizable stars. Never one for self-pity, Nomfusi strives to inspire others with her worldview that “life is about choices” and that "one has to overcome the poverty of the mind first.” Her compassion has led her to doing outreach work at schools for at-risk youth in Soweto, Swaziland, and Malawi, and creating opportunities she didn’t have for the next generation. Additionally, she recently became an ambassador for MES, a Hillbrow-based NPO that helps homeless individuals get back on their feet and reintegrate into society.
Music video by Nomfusi performing Nontsokolo. (C) 2010 Universal Music (Pty) Ltd South Africa
Nomfusi is as much a homegrown woman as she is a woman of the world. She cares deeply for her community and philanthropic endeavors, while simultaneously embracing the glamour and publicity that comes with mainstream music success. She has the distinction of being invited three times as an industry panelist at the annual symposium for “AFRIKADEY Festival” in Calgary, Canada — discussing the role of women and the arts in Africa. As she sings in her anthem against poverty, “Nontsokolo" — “Remember your sister, your brother, your mother and your neighbour. Don't leave them behind. Go back and make a difference."
Not one to just stand behind a microphone and sing, the self-taught vocalist and songwriter has become well known for her explosive stage performances all over the world. Nomfusi’s music is a beautiful, fearless mix of genres — from joyful Township sounds punctuated by percussive Maskandi guitars, to Afropop, Afro-soul, and soulful Ballads touched by Gospel. All of these elements combine to cement Nofusi’s worldwide appeal.
Growing up in the squatter camps of South Africa in the 90’s, Nomfusi was exposed to both traditional XHOSA sounds, and the contemporary American Soul music played widely on prominent South African radio stations. In fact, music is the core of every township. It is an essential part of everyday life, from happiness to struggle, that keeps the people going.
Through the power of music, Nomfusi tells evocative stories as seen through the eyes of a township girl growing up in her mother’s house — stories from inside a tiny shack that she wants to share with the world. While the Townships are widely associated with poverty and crime — reflecting times of race wars and South African Apartheid laws — there are all kinds of stories to be found and cultivated for musical inspiration.
Transforming into a pint-sized packet of dynamite the moment she picks up a microphone, Nomfusi has given riveting performances across Europe and Canada. She has appeared at prestigious festivals like WOMAD UK, Canada’s AFRIKADEY Festival (performing with Angelique Kidjo), and played to audiences of more than 8,000 at FMM SINES in Portugal and LUGANO JAZZ Festival in Switzerland. She also had the honor of opening for super star Lionel Richie at STIMMEN FESTIVAL in Germany, and starring with Hugh Masekela for South Africa's “Liberation Day” celebration at the renowned BOZAR Concert Hall in Brussels.
In perhaps the most defining moment of her career, Nomfusi was chosen to portray the character of Miriam Makeba in the highly-anticipated 2014 film, "Long Walk To Freedom,” about the life of Nelson Mandela. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "it is the largest South African production ever mounted.” The SAMA nominated singer, who is based in Johannesburg, was counted among the top ten rising stars on South Africa’s ETV Showbiz Report.
Nomfusi speaks about herself at Timitar Festival 2019
She has been featured in more than fifty international publications, including Drum (who gave her debut album 5 stars), Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Destiny. She has also appeared on the cover of High Flyers, Mango Juice, and The Sowetan newspaper. Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who discovered Bob Marley, Angelique Kidjo and U2, said of Nomfusi after viewing a touching documentary on her life and music: "What a terrific young artist — her genuine concern for her community and beyond comes through SO strongly.”
"What a terrific young artist, her genuine concern for her community and beyond comes through SO strongly."