Plaatjies, Lungiswa (South Africa)  
Lungiswa Plaatjies ©

BORN and raised in Cape Town's Langa township, and armed with an mbira and powerful and unique vocal cords, Lungiswa is immense fresh South African talent. As part of the group Amampondo she has entranced audiences worldwide, and been the recipient of many heartfelt compliment.

“I have come across people showering me with praises abroad", she comments “this affirmation is enough reason for me to continue making music".

Her performances abroad have invariably affirmed the enduring mix of musical, cultural and spiritual depth of the African continent. Lulu is unfazed by the international spotlight she was under as one of the lead singers of Amampondo, one of South African’s neo-traditional music sensations. “I have travelled around the world and visited many countries abroad. And what I’ve learnt is that a true artist must serve the people; this is what I want to do. It’s really the only way I can thank God for blessing me with the gift of this voice" she explains.

vocals, percussion
Genre: African Jazz, jazz, traditional / indigenous

The fact that she’s a relatively unknown entity within her home country does not really bother her. “Music is not about being famous", she says. "It is a means of connecting with the ancestors, relating the ills of society and helping to heal those who are touched by the music. This is a calling for me.?"

It is no wonder therefore that she started her singing career at the tender age of seven and later went on to be the lead female vocalist of Amampondo, where she joined her uncle Dizu. Lungiswa’s debut album with recording company Melt2000 was an album aptly titled Ekhaya. Ekhaya was an eclectic album, which offered amongst other things, a Xhosa-language version of Marvin Gaye’s Inner City Blues.

Lungiswa has a haunting and bewitching voice and ably weaves traditional songs with contempary sounds. She’s the only South African female musician to play the imbira and incorporate it into her compositions.

In addition to her accomplishments with Amampondo and her solo album, Lungiswa has featured in recordings with luminaries like Madala Kunene, Madosini, four-piece Maskanda outfit Skeleton, Tribal Ethno Dance and Swiss guitarist Max Lasser. She counts Letta Mbulu, Miriam Makeba, Salif Keita and Fela Kuti amongst her favourite musicians.

Lungiswa Plaaitjies
Lulu teamed up with Don Laka and opened her account with Bokone music with exquisitely crafted Unonkola. The album is full of humour and spirituality and is steeped in the lives and ways of the Xhosa people. The 10-track album is soul-nourishing, with riveting tunes such as Nyalila and Tsolo. It is an album packed with power and ethnic vitality. The guitar work is totally intergrated with her vocal styling. There is a fair amount of variety between the styles of the individual tracks. This doesn’t seem to disturb the flow of the album as a whole. Urban rhythms set against country swing ?a combination that seems to work nicely. There is a very characterisic sense of immediacy and even urgency. But not in a heavy or intrusive way. Plaatjie welcomed the opportunity to work with Don Laka, and feels that the album is a continuation of her mission "to serve the ancestors and preserve, elevate and develop our rich African culture and heritage."

Lungiswa was nominated for an SA Music Award (SAMA) in March 2002.

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