Simphiwe Dana ignites the firebrand

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Simphiwe Dana says she is ready to rock and roll with her followers. Picture: Supplied
Simphiwe Dana says she is ready to rock and roll with her followers. Picture: Supplied

Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and activist Simphiwe Dana is set to seduce sound and titillate tunes with her second annual Symphony Experience.

The mellifluous affair takes place on December 7 at The SA State Theatre in Pretoria.

With more than 15 years in the industry, Dana has cemented her hard-earned place among the icons.

She attributes her success to being honest in her craft: “I’m quite the introvert; staying at home with my kids is what fulfils me. I don’t live much of a celebrity life. I’ve always been honest in my music and that is why I think I’ve stood the test of time.”

Dana explained that celebrating African unity was at the heart of the concert.

“This year’s concert will be unlike anything you’ve heard before. With a band comprised only of black women, it will be a celebration of young black excellence and I hope that, in the future, it will continue to be even more representative, diverse and inclusive.”

Dana will be accompanied by renowned US-born east African vocalist and songwriter Somi, award-winning Afro-Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena, a 60-piece orchestra, a 30-member choir and a dance troupe of 12 from Gregory Maqoma’s Vuyani Dance Company.

“We need to invest more in woman empowerment and in developing young talent,” she said.

The songstress partnered with Universal Music earlier this year to identify, develop and groom up-and-coming talent. She cited songbirds Ami Faku and Msaki as artists who have caught her attention, and says they are ones to watch.

“Ami Faku’s got something amazing going on and she reminds me of a younger me,” she said fondly.

Dana said she was upset with the current socioeconomic climate in the country: “South Africans have a responsibility to be proactive in fighting xenophobia and uniting the continent. Xenophobia is deeply entrenched in our society. We are also going through a recession and it’s something that we’re not talking about. Gender-based violence is also rampant and this is all deeply concerning.”

She also spoke passionately about the role of music in healing society: “Music has always played a role in reflecting societal issues. From the struggle songs sung during apartheid to religious sounds, music has the power to heal.”

When asked about her future acting aspirations, Dana blushed, stating that it was quite challenging, but also brought healing.

Last year, she played Nozizwe – a role inspired by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela – in the Mmabatho Montsho-directed film Joko Ya Hao.

She also has a role in the upcoming 90-minute film Being Mandela. Dana starred in the movie Themba: A Boy Called Hope in 2010.

While expressing how delighted she was to be exploring this art form, Dana assured her fans that they could expect an album in the near future.

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