Camagwini - Emandulo

2009-07-13 16:27
 
Emandulo (Ancient Times)
 

It's this freedom she invokes on opening ancestral prayer "The Chant" which maps the call to consciousness of a young African woman reconnecting with her Xhosa roots as an antidote to the spiritual bankruptcy of living in an era of booty and bling. "I call myself an ambassador of culture" explains Camagwini on the album's accompanying bonus documentary featurete. "I am a song myself. I believe that I am the voice of the ancestors". 

Cynics might want to gag over such an unapologetically spiritual statement, but Camagwini speaks from the heart. She's no wannabe Afro diva giving popular "wedding songs" some sort of fashionably hip world music makeover. She's a sanguine Sama-nominated songbird who fuses soul, jazz, maskandi, pop and traditional Xhosa folk into a distinctly contemporary South African sound she simply dubs "ethno soul". Relax. While Native Rhythm Records label boss Sipho Sithole may be eager to punt his sexy young star as "the first ethno-soul princess", there's way more substance to her style than any retro-Afro-consciousness brand building blurb might imply.

Initiating a cultural dialogue between her Xhosa roots and their contemporary relevance is the cornerstone of Camagwini's ancestral conversations throughout Emandulo (aka Ancient Times). "The album reflects those nuances, those reflective moments in life where you try to find your beginning, remembering people who came before you. I feel that I have a connection with the past; that I'm speaking for the past" she explained in an interview recently.

In an amnesiac age of hyper-consumerism where actual musical substance is too often subsumed by seasonally hip style, Camagwini's spontaneous soul celebrations are totally mesmerising. "Ndilinde Mngoma" and "Ntombi yeSilungu" are uncompromisingly spiritual socio-cultural sermons which declare that the revolution is still worth fighting for: as long as it's a spiritually funky one. It's this spiritual funk that extends throughout the seamless tapestry of soul, jazz, maskandi, and Afropolitan house ("Selinile" with Black Coffee) tunings which come together in an inspirationally soulful flow that reconnects Camagwini with the fertile legacy of musical 'ancestors' such as Miriam Makeba and Dorothy Masuka, Suthukazi Arosi, Busi Mhlongo and Tu Nokwe.

Right, so she's pulling an Amandla Sister move then? Nope. An echo of Thandiswa's Afrobeat fire can be heard on the brass 'n reggae guitar groover "Lidal' Ithongo"; and the flame that ignites Simphiwe Dana's "One Love on Bantu Biko Street" consciousness is audible on sublime African jazz ballads such as "Babuyile" (featuring guitarist Kunle) and "Thula". But that ethno-soul flow is distinctly Camagwini's own. The former Sun Goddess fashion model bares her heart in conversation with guitarist Naughty Ntuli on lilting township jazzy jams ("iTshomi Zam") and locomotive maskandi celebrations ("Nthombi yeSilingu"). Later she soars over pianist Andile Yenana's pastroal key strokes on beatific folk ballads "UDokrawla" and "Thula", before finding comfort alongside Pops Mohamed's kora, mbira, and mouth bow on the gorgeous ambient African lullaby "uButhi Akaphilang".
 
And don't for a second presume that all this rootsy revisitation is some kind of nostalgic "Afro-primitivist" postcard  aimed at selling an 'exotic' Third World stereotype to tourists. "Thabo No Thabisa" is a sublimely smooth urban jazz ballad showcase where Camagwini's cool siren call, Kunle's deft Jimmy Dludlu styled guitar strums, Sphamandla Bhembe's muted trumpet tones, and even some classical keys and strings come together in a sensual quiet storm that's so sexy it deserves to be included on just about every listener's "Romantic Songs" iPod playlist. 

And let's not forget hipster Mzansi house producer Black Coffee who mainlines some serious Afropolitan chic into the mix with a meandering midtempo beat and maskandi guitar on "Selinile" (feat. Imithenthe's Dumisile Manana). Hell, by the time Pops Mohamed returns to thread his Afro-futuristic canvas of rain sticks, bird calls, mouth bows and other toys through the midtempo urban nights groover "Nonkonko" even the most jaundiced of Afro-soul ears will be rejuvenated.  

Those four bonus remastered renditions of key tracks off Zivile including "Ighawe", "African Woman", "Chosi Chosi", and "Imvumi" (and accompanying music video) make for a nifty introduction for the unitiated too.

Forget Beyonce. Forget Ciara. In fact, forget all those emotionally airbrushed Billboard chart divas clogging up your consciousness with their booty babe adverts. Instead, tune into a woman with brains to match her good looks; a self-styled Nubian ethno-soul princess who seeks nothing less than spiritual liberation from the post-colonial madness of our ongoing cultural amnesia.

What to read next: Kalahari

Vuyokazi 2009/07/14 11:16 AM
I think Camagwini is trying to hard....to be Thandiswa.
smindlo 2009/07/14 12:37 PM
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vuyokazi ayivuyisi tu kwaphela lento oyitshoyo when will be the time when someone sings nice and you listen get the message then you won't be saying what you just mentioned if you don't like it don't criticise
PETUNIA 2009/07/14 1:00 PM
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ITHINK SHE IS TRYING TO BE SIMPHIWE DANA BRING YOUR OWN STYLE SISTA
Mandla 2009/07/14 2:14 PM
thandiswa and simphiwe didn't invent african music. we should celebrate this sister for appreciating her heritage too.
Mandla 2009/07/14 2:16 PM
thandisa and simphiwe didn't invent african music. we must celebrate this sister for acknowledging her heritage too. thank you miles.
Vuyokazi 2009/07/14 3:52 PM
Mandla, I do not disagree with you. Fine Thandiswa and Simphiwe did not invent that genre of music. But they sound different, they might sing the same genre but they don't sound the same. They are unique. uSister Bucks lo unguCamagwini does not sound unique at all.....andimva shame
Spiro 2009/07/14 4:52 PM
They don't look as hot. Camagwini is on fire.
dave 2009/07/14 5:06 PM
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Spiro, you called it. She sounds soulful, but she's an African princess in my book!
Jay Jay 2009/07/15 8:20 AM
Hey, vuyo, Thandiswa is not the only Xhosa girl, and anyone can be or do anything in relation to their culture, this girl is fine......
mnce 2009/07/18 5:52 AM
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camagwini is not try to be anyone,she talented,wow the the voice.she good.
Lindi 2009/07/19 10:06 AM
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Black woman wake up,it is about time that U acknowledge what is beatiful and admire some one for who they are and stop critisizing, Petunia, Vuyokazi U need to sit back and listen to the sound and really feel the soul.Stop comparing people we are all individuals and what Camagwini has U dont have Sisi,U probably cn't sing and dont even feel the vibe, so that is why all is the same 2 U, Guys stop it and give praise to weman who are making it out there representing U as an African woman,be proud Viva Black Woman.
Podesta 2009/07/19 5:10 PM
Dont know about brains, once I was with her whilst she was being interviwed by a French journalist, and she didnt know who Barack Obama was....
malambule 2009/08/07 12:13 AM
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unfortunately i signed and worked with all these artists mentioned herein. thandiswa's first album was produced by myself and for which I won Best Producer at the SAMAs, and she also won numerous awards. Simphiwe Dana was signed by myself and I oversaw the production of her first album. Camagwini is my protege and I am so proud of her achievement. she has just returned from a month long tour of Europe where she performed at more 10 festivals Holland, Belgium and Germany. i have produced both her albums and can attest to the fact that she is different, unique and stands on her own. i guess that is why you are all talking about her - you cannot ignore her presence. i respect Thandiswa and Simphiwe for being brave enough and created a new sound, which was termed Afro-soul by myself. Camagwini has now shifted to Ethno-soul, seeing that everybody has jumped onto the bandwagon of this Afro-soul.
Z.... 2009/10/02 12:00 PM
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@ malambule: why 4/5 stars?? This is your work... didn't you give it your best shot?? I heard the song "Lidal' ithongo lam" on radio, and I quickly went to mtnloaded to search for this song, fortunately i found it. I have been listening to it ever since, its a great track! This is one album I will definitely buy...(i'm kinda broke now). Love it love it! My sister has "Zivile" (her debut album)... I love iziwe and imvumi there.... "Ungandiboni ndizula iGoli ndihamba ngenyawo, andiziva. Xa undibona ndikhala ndiyeke, kuba ndibona into ongayiboniyo!" Damn...i love this line...Camagwini is a great writer and artist.
Percyval 2009/12/04 4:14 PM
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Camagwini is the only queen of Ethno-Soul, she definitely rocks my world, her voice, her style and originality. She makes me feel like I once lived in the encient times, she is the real voice of the past. It has always been my dream to talk to her.
Percyval 2009/12/04 4:19 PM
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I listen to "Babuyile" and Lidal' ithongo lam'repeatedly, I love you Camagwini
Percyval 2009/12/04 4:25 PM
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When are you coming to Nelspruit? tickets to your show would be sold out within a minute of marketing, NGUW'INKOSAZANA!
xolille wagosa 2010/07/07 11:45 AM
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Whow...let's face it guy's b/full music is not dictated by who sings the song.as for Vuyokazi obviously i think you are being biased and partial.Pliz sisi have a room to appriciate our upcoming and talent artists of Mzantsi....FACT IS THANDISWA OR NO THANDISWA;DANA OR NO DANA U-CAMAGWINI ROOCKS keep up the good work ntombi yomthonyama we luv yo music.
xolille wagosa 2010/07/07 12:06 PM
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whow.... this girl can sing...lets face it guys b/full sound is not dictated by who sings it.As for Vuyokazi i think u are biased/partial and even jealos.This girl is not here to take Thandiswa'or Dana's place but uplift and maintain our b/full african music.FACT IS THANDISWA OR NO THANDISWA,DANA OR NO DANA CAMAGWINI ROOOOOCKS if yu don't lyk her music don't lesten to it we will.As for Camagwini keep up the gud work ntombi yomthonyama we lv your music.
xolille wagosa 2010/07/07 12:07 PM
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whow.... this girl can sing...lets face it guys b/full sound is not dictated by who sings it.As for Vuyokazi i think u are biased/partial and even jealos.This girl is not here to take Thandiswa'or Dana's place but uplift and maintain our b/full african music.FACT IS THANDISWA OR NO THANDISWA,DANA OR NO DANA CAMAGWINI ROOOOOCKS if yu don't lyk her music don't lesten to it we will.As for Camagwini keep up the gud work ntombi yomthonyama we lv your music.
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