DJ Zinhle brings down the house

2012-04-01 07:18

A young female DJ from South Africa has wowed the world’s dance music elite in Miami, where Arts Minister Paul Mashatile was seen boogieing in the DJ booth.

“It is the first time that a female artist has rocked this space. It was the top song this year. It will be played all over Europe this summer,” US house music legend and Grammy winner Louie Vega says about DJ Zinhle’s song, My Name Is.

The track debuted last week in Miami at the Winter Music Conference (WMC), arguably the most important global event on the house music calendar.

Each year at the WMC, the clubs in South Beach host elite parties to showcase new artists. It’s by being introduced at these parties that South Africa’s distinctive deep tribal house sounds have been attracting distribution deals and setting global dance-floor trends for the past few years.

Last year, Zakes Bantwini’s Juju was the most played track in Miami. Before that, it was Culoe de Song’s We Baba and Black Coffee’s Superman. But 2012 was DJ Zinhle’s year.

Local house supremo Oskido, DJ?Zinhle’s mentor, first played My Name Is to Vega and his wife, Anané, while they were on a visit to South Africa. Cape Verde-born Anané signed it on the spot to her label, NuLu Records.

“I felt every female DJ out there would feel that same empowerment as I do when I play it,” the singer/ DJ/producer said this week.

She hosted a party to introduce DJ Zinhle to Miami. At the party, DJ?Zinhle, who also runs a DJ academy for girls in Joburg, introduced Miss Pru, a new DJ whom she has mentored.

It was one of five parties highlighting the South African house invasion this year. DJ Fresh and Black Coffee also hosted massively successful events. But it was Vega Records Get Together Welcomes South Africa’s Finest, also in Miami, that really turned heads.

“The party was attended by the minister of arts and culture, who’s really behind SA DJs and developing our music,” says Oskido.

“The department sponsored the young DJs to fly there.”

He says that global DJs were astonished to see a government minister supporting dance music. Vega was hugely
impressed.

“I met Mashatile at a Kaya FM luncheon and then he came into the DJ booth as we were DJ-ing and it felt really good to have him there experiencing the performances.”

The other big news for South Africa this year was the success of Black Motion, a young Soshanguve DJ/percussionist duo. Both Oskido and Vega called them newcomers of the year.

“Once they’d seen them perform, everyone wanted a piece of them,” says Oskido. The outfit has also been signed to NuLu Records.

Even Khanyisile Mbau redeemed herself on Oskido’s ticket. She performed the BOP track Wa Muhle and received a warm response.

“But this was Zinhle’s year,” says Oskido.

Contacted just hours after arriving back home this week, DJ?Zinhle was modest about her achievement, saying: “I guess it was a big year for me. Normally I’m supporting the other guys. Next we’ll be making a music video for the song.”

She was born Ntombezinhle Jiyane in Dannhauser in KwaZulu-Natal into a family of teachers. For the first years of her life she was raised on a farm without electricity. Today the 29-year-old woman is the fresh princess of global electronic dance music. It’s no overnight success, though. She has been a legend on the local club scene for years as she steadily built her brand. Her 60 000-odd Twitter followers know exactly who she is, but now the mainstream will be finding
out too.

“Her majesty the queen is in the booth. Come to the dance floor,” are some of the powerfully delivered lyrics on My Name Is.

“The song was so big last week that I’ve already heard a remake that someone did, where instead of ‘the queen’, it’s a man saying ‘the king is in the booth’,” says Anané. “This track is giving men a run for their money. It says female DJs are here to stay.”

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