By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor
Without doubt she stands out as one of the most vocally talented South African musicians, who since she released her debut album a few years ago, made a huge impression on the South African music scene. Bookings rolled in, and during a period when performance is King, and I am talking about the time before these disruptive and uncertain days of Covid-19. Amanda Black, with one of the most beautiful voices in South Africa, smooth and clean, had a good share of performances within a short space of time since she came into the music scene in the country a few years ago. Her distinctly clean vocals filled concert halls and outdoor spaces as people from all walks of life embraced the artists and her music in a big way.
It is precisely for this reason many people were disappointed when a few years ago, reports emerged that she claimed she did not get what she deserved from her then recording company, with which she has since severed the relationship. It was a pity also that their relationship ended in the manner that it did, especially because the said recording label, was the one which put this talented singer on the global stage to start with, believing in her and giving her all the support that she needed, in order for her career to rise. Unfortunately as it were, her fame and rise to the top of festival line ups, did not commensurate with the income she is said to have earned from her recording label, and hence the fall out.
However, her fans must be happy that their favourite artist is now back with a new album, and this time with a new label, her own, and we can all hope that this time around she will get what she deserves financially and her career will soar, just like it phenomenally did a few years ago. That is before she met the widely reported financial set back due to a reportedly bad contract she had signed with her previous label.
And when I received the video of her new album, I was looking forward to listening to her new offering with anticipation, especially because over the past few years, she had won me over, along with many music lovers through her ability to sing, and sing very well. Hers is raw talent that definitely needs support, and not exploitation.
When I listened and watched the video, I was impressed, just like I had been with her previous releases. This one is a bit laid back, but beautiful never the less, as it gives Amanda Black an opportunity to display her artistry fully, especially her clean vocal rendition. It is bound to get favourable response from discerning music lovers, especially the ones who love clean vocal delivery by a talented singer like CITYLIFE/ARTS would therefore like to introduce you to Amanda Black’s new album, entitled Mnyama,
The award winning singer, songwriter, Amanda invites you to join her on a soulful and introspective sonic journey through heartbreak and learning how to forgive yourself. The album, which shows the many sides of Amanda at this point in her life, offers a 10 song track list, including collaborations with the likes of Berita, J’Something, Christer and Kwesta.
The theme that runs through the album is to never stop fighting because ‘even bad days have to end.’
.“I have bared my soul for the listener to encourage them and let them know that they will be okay. When I wrote this album, it was the first time where it had nothing to do with proving that I can do it; it was about me and my mental process and ultimately my mental health because I allowed myself to be vulnerable and face the things that I normally would distract myself from. These are the conversations I’ve been having with myself,” she reveals.
Mnyama is now available to stream, download, and purchase worldwide here.
The album opens with Amanda beautifully humming at the beginning of ‘Ndandihleli, a song that bares resemblance to an old Xhosa hymn she sang growing up. On the track Amanda speaks about longing for her partner, not regretting all the beautiful moments that they shared, but standing firm in her decision to not return to the relationship.
On Amagingxi Amanda acknowledges that she has no idea how she will get over the pain, but she will continue to persevere over amagingxigingxi (hurdles).
“I urge the listener to not rush the healing process, rather to face it head on and allow it to happen because when we run away from ourselves that’s where the real melancholy is,” she reflects.
On Ungayeki, the focus single on the album, Amanda reminds us to keep hope because ‘something will change for you today,’ so we should all remain steadfast and keep fighting.
“I encourage people to never lose sight of themselves, and if they do , which often happens because this is life, they go back to the beginning to help them see the vision again. To see themselves again.”
Kutheni Na is the first single off the album and speaks of our collective experience of the pandemic and how we all know how it feels to lose something – whether it’s a job, their loved ones, their homes or even just a sense of security.
As we enter the second half of the album it takes a turn with Let It Go, a song about releasing all the pain and negativity she had been holding onto and protecting. Amanda reaches back into her childhood again by singing her grandmother’s favourite Catholic hymn, Ekuphileni with award winning singer, J’Something.
This is also her current favourite single on the album. On LWH (Love that We Had) Amanda asks herself the terrifying, but freeing, question after dealing with the pain of a break up– am I finally over the love that we had? On track 8, Lonely Amanda reaches out to a higher power to help her be okay and get over the loneliness that she is feeling.
Keeping with the theme of persevering, Amanda and Christer encourage us to pick ourselves up no matter how difficult it is because this is not the end.
“I urge the listener to not rush the healing process, rather to face it head on to allow the process of healing to happen because when we run away from ourselves, that’s where the real melancholy is.”
She concludes the album with a haunting ballad titled Away where she speaks about longing to be home, in the Eastern Cape, where her heart, family and peace are.
“This album is a real representation of how the emotional process goes. Self love is a journey and we always expect to get to the final destination quickly, but the final destination is you. You have to be okay with yourself. It’s the biggest part of the journey.”