Nomhle basks in the limelight
MANY music lovers find themselves unfamiliar with the face that sings the popular song Ingane Ka Makhelwane, by Nomhle featuring Zuluboy. It poses the question: who is Nomhle?
Sowetan caught up with Nomhle Pearl Nongogo at Sophiatown in Newtown where she spoke about her music and her excitement about the 18th South African Music Awards (Samas).
This is her first nomination for best African adult album and for best female artist of the year.
The eldest of four siblings, she was born in Aliwal North between Free State and Eastern Cape.
Nongogo grew in Port Elizabeth and started singing at the tender age of four.
Growing up she always knew she wanted to study music, even though her parents felt that there was no career in it.
She furthered her studies at Port Elizabeth Technikon, now Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, where she pursued journalism.
Nongogo dropped out and followed a music career.
She then received an invitation to perform at a concert in Jburg. It was here where she saw how to make her career work.
"From that time I knew that this is where I wanted to be. That is how I ended up in Johannesburg," she said in between sips of her cappuccino.
"When passion calls you, well for me, that calling is music, you can't ignore it!"
Her first live show experience was when she watched the late Jabu Khanyile perform.
"It made me realise that I wanted to be on stage. I was overwhelmed by his performance," she said.
From being with Joyous Celebration, she went on to be a backing vocalist for nine years for artists such as HHP, Unathi Msengana, Jeff Maluleke, Thandiswa Mazwai, Tuks, JR, Lundi and Kholeka.
"I really do not regret having spent nine years as a backing vocalist. It was more like university as the experience has really groomed me," she said.
When asked about the uniqueness of her music, she excitedly replied: "I wanted a sound that defines me. I call my music Afro-traditional funk."
Her debut album is called Ikwezi (Morning Star).
Her songs are distinctive and they tackle sensitive issues such as HIV/Aids, incest, polygamy, prayer, poverty in South Africa, lust, and politicians and their greed.
"I sing about things that people do not want to talk about, issues that affect our daily lives, my sound speaks more to the village people," she said emotionally.
With only few days left until the Samas this weekend, Nongogo said: "I still feel like I'm dreaming. It shows that people listen to my music.
"It is thrilling even if I do not win it does not matter. I just want to go and enjoy myself."
In the category of best African adult album she is up against seasoned musicians like Moreira Chonguica, Somizi Mhlongo, Unathi Msengana and Zonke Dikana.
"I am amongst the heavyweights and its going to be tough," she giggled.
But when asked about the category of the best female artist she screamed and said: "One word, yoh Zahara, what can one do where there is a Zahara. She is like the Adele of SA, but I believe that being in the same line-up with her is amazing and you just may never know."