Classic diva to rock jazz fans
Hlulani Hlangane, 28, reckons she only needs to release her first album to become a force on the local jazz scene.
A protege of respected veteran jazz musician and composer Themba Mkhize, Hlangane's unique voice is refreshing. She is currently working with Mkhize on her debut album.
"Her tone places her squarely in the field of classic jazz divas," Mkhize says about her.
Hlangane, 28, grew up in Giyani, Limpopo, and sings in Xitsonga. She expects to make marginalised languages more popular.
When she performed recently at Katzy's in Rosebank, Johannesburg, the crowd - most of whom did not understand Xitsonga - were mesmerised.
Hlangane, whose mother and both grandparents are pastors, was raised in the church and sang in the choir.
"We always sang at home, but I never thought I would make singing a career," she says.
She says the significance of her singing in Xitsonga was inspired by her wish to hear local jazz in her own language.
"This is my way of showing the world the beauty and authenticity of my mother tongue."
Hlangane graduated from the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, and says that she knew during her matric year that she wanted to study jazz at university.
She enrolled at the University of Cape Town Music School where she majored in jazz, specifically vocals and band leading. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in 2006.
She won Standard Bank Arts' vocalist of the year and was placed in the National Youth Jazz Band in 2008.
The award opened many doors and led to her sharing the stage with top musicians like The Spinners, Judith Sephuma, Jimmy Dludlu and Hugh Masekela.
Hlangane has travelled to Germany for three consecutive years with three time Grammy-nominated jazz group, the SWR Big Band. She has also toured Mozambique.
Hlangane, who lived in Vietnam for three years and sang in a local band, says she is proud to have shared the stage with international jazz pianist Mike DelFerro.
"The language barrier was bridged by my love of music," she says of her time in Asia.
She was also the opening act for superstar Patti Labelle at the Soul on Turf show at Sun City.
Hlangane, who is working on the final touches to her own album, now performs in jazz pubs and other events with Herbie Tsoaeli, Ayanda Sikade, Nduduzo Makhathini, Mthunzi Mvubu, Mlungisi Gegana and Feya Faku.