Afrika Mamas Afrika Mamas
- 1Robe and Crown04:10
- 7Who's Gonna Help Me04:01
- 8Umkhumbi Ka Noah05:13
Info for Afrika Mamas
Africa continues to reveal its incredible wealth of musical talent and the CDs that we feature in this edition of Africa Calling represent the very best of the latest widely-available releases. Our spotlight group this time out is Afrika Mamas, a seven-woman a cappella group from South Africa. The ladies are all single mothers with 11 children between them, and no doubt those lucky kids have amazing lullabies sung to them all the time!
The inspiring group Afrika Mamas are three-time South African Music Awards nominees, and have toured all over the world. They sing in an a cappella or Mbube style, featuring rich textures, thick harmonies, reminiscent of Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The twelve tracks featured on this disc are a fantastic representation of the works of this moving group.
The old gospel chestnut “Robe and Crown” opens this effort and the ladies infuse the song with a healthy dose of ‘60s-style soul; follow-up track “Uzilibonge” is not sung in English but it is also about praising God and language barrier aside, the song’s reverential tone is palpable. As with several songs here, “Uzilibonge” is not strictly a cappella; it employs a bit of percussion which brings out the song’s African-ness. Shades of Billie Holiday permeate the lead vocals of “Tonny,” making the song an interesting juxtaposing of jazz and background vocals that are distinctly South African. Thanks to the CD’s liner notes we know that the song is about a guy who loves his woman and tells her on a regular basis that he appreciates “her curves.” “Qathaka” on the other hand has no meaning; it is a “click song” where the women have fun with Q and C sounds. About half way through the album Afrika Mamas revisit the western gospel sound with “Who’s Gonna Help Me,” once again doctoring the song up a bit, this time quite appropriately for an a cappella group, with some sweet doo wop. Three bass, three soprano and one alto singer provide the truly dulcet tones here.
Ntombifuthi Lushaba, band leader, soprano
Patricia Bhe Shandu, alto, lead singer
Sibongile Nkosi, bass, lead singer
Ntombizethu Joyise, soprano
Sinegugu Khoza, soprano, lead singer
Fikile Mhlongo, bass singer
Sister Zungu, bass singer
is a folktale group with a vision to promote African culture through music and theatre. They further aim to develop an ‘edutainment’ approach, in which they educate while entertaining their audiences on various African tales, breaking the stereotypes that are maintained on some African cultural traits.
Afrika Mamas was formed and founded by Tu Nokwe, an Afrofolk singer, in 1998. The group members were discovered while working as backing singers for various artists including Tu Nokwe herself, Brenda Fassie, Luzurus Dgadgudi, and Steve Kekana. They have collaborated with an array of South African and Afrikaans musicians including Janni Moolman, Amanda Stryddom and Dozi, just to name a few.
The Afrika Mamas have two recorded albums, which have been nominated for South African Music Awards in the same category as Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 1999 they were nominated for ‘Best Cover Album’ and ‘Best Isicathamiya Group’ and in 2008 they were again nominated for ‘Best Isicathamiya Group’ at Sun City Super Bowl, South Africa.
The Afrika Mamas have worked in various projects to promote intercultural exchange with other parts of the world, and this has taken them to places such as China, Belgium, Holland, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Namibia. The Afrika Mamas are single mothers with eleven children between them. Their social experiences are naturally expressed through their music. They have faith and deep trust in each other, which elevates the bond they have maintained over the years.