Ayanda Jiya drops her debut album
Chanteuse Ayanda Jiya has positioned herself as the face of modern, local R&B.
Her debut album Ayandastand stays true to the vulnerability, honesty and esteem of the genre.
At last mainstream is excited again about R&B, so much so that when her anticipated album dropped last Friday, it topped iTunes and Google Play charts - and continues to stay there.
Her soothing voice and sound has been likened to the late R&B trailblazer Tsakani "TK" Mhinga - a compliment that she will gladly take and run with. "She was a pioneer. For me to be mentioned in the same bracket, it's humbling. It means I'm doing something right and unique that people can relate to," she observes.
"A lot of people have said ever since TK left, there are big shoes to be filled. I agree with that because she had left a huge mark when it came to local R&B. For me I can only give my own definition of what R&B is to me. She will always stay an inspiration for people like us as we move it forward," she says.
The 32-year-old songbird's 11-track album features Stogie T on Love 4 Life,
A-Reece on Falling for You and Ziyon on Night Away.
Her first single, The Sun, has been a fan favourite; along with Trade, Soldier of Love and Worth It.
"The reception has been overwhelming. Maybe it's because people are more receptive when it comes to fresh and new sound," she opines.
"I think my uniqueness of the album really got people excited."
It took Ayanda two years to make the album. As an independent artist, she admits that financially it's been a struggle. But she will not do it any other way.
"I wanted to have the freedom of doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to be honest in terms of the sound and where I wanted it to go. It's probably the best decision I've made in my career," she explains.
Ayanda first captured attention in 2014 with the release of her breakout single Go Go Girl. She followed it with I'm Doing Fine and Outta Control.
"I think that's when people first took notice. They were like, 'who is this girl? She sounds so American'," she says.
"That's the biggest misconception about me that I'm American. I guess I understand because the influence comes from there."
Ayanda was born in Klerksdorp, North West, to a Xhosa father and Malawian mother. She grew up in a very religious and musical family. She studied graphic design at the Tshwane University of Technology, but dropped out due to financial strain. That's when she pursued music full time.
"Every morning my mother will wake us up in song. We will sing a hymn and have morning devotion," she shares. "Even when cleaning there was music playing in the background. My influences of R&B started there."