Songbird Simmy a fusion sensation
Tugela Ferry-born songbird Simmy hit it big this year with two house smash tracks, Ubala and Sonini featuring Sun-EL Musician.
Sun-EL has played a huge role in Simmy's music career, having discovered and subsequently signed her to his label EL World Music. Before they started collaborating she unsuccessfully tried her luck at music competition shows Idols SA and SA's Got Talent.
The duo first met when Simmy, real name Simphiwe Nhlangulela, was studying social sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
"We met back in 2013 through his younger brother. He asked me to sing for him and he asked why don't we work on something. But at the time I knew I needed to finish my degree. After finishing my degree I moved to Joburg," she recounts.
Last month, Simmy released her debut album, Tugela Fairy. It earned her the honour of being picked on Apple Music's New Artist Spotlight for December.
Other local artists to receive the honour in the past include Shekhinah, Shane Eagle, Sketchy Bongo, Amanda Black and Babes Wodumo.
"It's weird. It's not something that I expected. To receive such an honour is shocking, but I'm grateful for it."
Her sound is inspired by a fusion of maskandi, country music, neo-soul and electro house music. Simmy's biggest music inspirations are Letta Mbulu and Dolly Parton. She will like to work with Sjava and Thandiswa Mazwai.
"The reception of the album has been beautiful. I have realised that there is a song for everyone on the album," she says. "People are just choosing their favourites, from people who like slow jams and soulful music to those who like to dance."
Her career highlight so far has been performing at the DStv Mzansi Viewers' Choice Awards last month.
"I've learnt so much, especially that it's not just about the music. It's about understanding the business part of it.
"Before I was very shy and not confident about my work. That was like a year ago.
"Now I believe in my songwriting and when I sing to people they enjoy it. Just my experience with dealing with a large crowd has built a lot of confidence in me."
Simmy, 24, is the youngest of four kids.
"I was raised by parents that are very strict, they are very old and not like your typical young parents," she says.
"The reason my sound is inspired by old-school music is because my dad loved a lot of maskandi and country music. My brother brought that side of R&B and house music."