Inspiration Friday: Nono Nkoane

By Drum Digital
17 July 2015

Kwa Langa's Nono Nkoane is South Africa's next top jazz musician, who risked it all for her passion for music.

Nono Nkoane of Kwa Langa is South Africa's next top singer and composer, who’s risked it all for her passion for music. The young mother of two has managed to juggle being a mother, entertainer and wife.

Losing her father at the age of one, Nono admits she did not know much about him, but she missed having a father figure in her home. But she managed to deal with this loss thanks to music and her mother. She was grateful to find refuge in music.

"My mother, who was and still is a primary school teacher, loved music and she introduced me to great music from a very early age,” she tell us. “There was always music playing in the house. I realise now that she loved strong black female musicians/singers. She introduced me to the late Miriam Makeba, who I grew to adore. She also loved Nina Simone, Letta Mbulu, Aretha Franklin and later Busi Mhlongo, and others."

Nono joined a local African music and dance group when she was 12 years old. "I left home for Pretoria at the age of 19 to study music. This is where I met my husband. We got married very young: he was 23 and I was 21. We had a little baby. We laugh about it now but we were so young that most of the time we had no idea what we were doing but we knew that we would do it ourselves and we would be great." Luckily for Nono her husband is also a musician, a drummer.

Nono started off sharing stages with South African artists, as a supporting act for the likes of Miriam Makeba, Judith Sephuma and Monique Bingham. She’s since blossomed and has an album out called True Call, which she composed and produced herself. The album received great reviews from jazz great Themba Mkhize, who called it brave and unique with a wonderful story to tell, a breath of fresh air and something people will hear about for the longest time.

She will soon be performing at the Kaya FM JAZZuary Unplugged Session, and one of the acts at this year's Standard bank Joy of Jazz with Jimmy Dludlu. Her track Baleka is the official soundtrack for literature project Long Story Short, featuring actress and activist Hlubi Mboya.

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