HomeLife & StyleShingai Shoniwa speaks on career

Shingai Shoniwa speaks on career

-

UNITED KINGDOM-BASED singer Shingai Shoniwa, who frontlines the Noisettes band, ventured into the world of showbiz in 2009 with the release of her sophomore album, Wild Young Hearts.

BY FREEMAN MAKOPA

The album immediately propelled her into the mainstream music industry as it featured in the UK top 10 hits, featuring on magazine covers while she staged performances at a number of top festivals from Coachella to Glastonbury.

She has bounced back with another album titled Too Bold. NewsDay Weekender Life & Style caught up with Shoniwa, who shared her musical journey.

The journey

I was raised in London to Zimbabwean and Malawian parents. Creativity has always been in my family, my uncle is Thomas Mapfumo and my mom’s brother used to play with a lot of Zimbabwean bands in the 1970s and 1980s.

My mom used to organise live music events and carnival celebrations at Africa Centre in London. I studied drama and theatre and have tried to weave my family stories and try to explore my Bandu legacy through music. I have released a few albums and have done collaborations with the likes of Charlie Kay and Dennis Ferrer-Hey Hey and United States performing artiste Neyo.

Inspiration

Through my latest album called Too Bold, I want to celebrate my 10-year journey in the music industry. The styles that inspire my music include Rock n Roll, Soul, RnB and a lot of African and contemporary music. I am also inspired by film and a lot of voices in the diasporian community.

Creating music so far away from home only inspires me to work as much as possible about African music and celebrate that in my music. I am not the only person to have done this, but I know a lot of incredible musicians like that, who had to create work far from home.

Breakthrough

I was able to break into the music industry by being signed to Motown Records in America, which opened a lot of doors for us and it was an incredible opportunity, but it never stopped us having to show what we had to give to the music scene internationally.

Making music in foreign soil

You have to try and create your own unique identity by harmonising the best of both worlds. It is a challenge to get the balance right and to establish a sense of belonging, but I feel it’s important to do your best and we should recognise and celebrate the contributions of Africans and the Zim-diaspora.

Major highlights

Some of the greatest highlights of my career have included performing at African festivals and performing in Africa. At one of the festivals in Malawi, it was wonderful because we went on stage before the late Oliver Mtukudzi and later, sharing the stage with him led me into some further amazing performances singing with his band for his 60th birthday celebrations.

I would also say performing at the Harare International Festival of the Arts was also a wonderful highlight and just anything that I have done to celebrate and uplift the talents of our people.

This brings us to where we are now releasing an Afro-pop album at such unpredictable times.

I am really grateful that now I can celebrate everything that I have learnt in music so far with this album Too Bold.

Message

The message on the album Too Bold is that of positivity and encouragement in the face of great challenges.

A lot of us from the diaspora and marginalised communities in the West face a lot of discriminations every day.

This often starts when you are kids and I wanted to put out a song which was just speaking of the challenges that women and the black community face.

I wanted to send a message out there that no one should dim your fire, so that is the message.

I have gone deep into some of my personal experiences like childhood grief and how we had to recover from the post-colonial world. Too Bold will give people a message of hope and it is an album that I hope will be appreciated by all generations and I put my heart and soul into it.

Challenges

It is not easy at all to make and sustain a living in the creative industry, especially music, which is why I try to make art that cannot just have an impact for the contemporary kind of scene.

I try to make music that is as timeless as possible and celebrate how far we have come with black music and how exciting the future can be, which brings me to the importance of collaborations.

I think collaborations are really important for sectors of the arts not only for women, but also for people of colour.

Recent Posts

Stories you will enjoy

Recommended reading