Msaki is a composer and singer-songwriter from East London, South Africa. She was born in East London and grew up between East London, Butterworth, Grahamstown, Peddie, Nqamakhwe and Cathcart. Born into a musically gifted family, her father who was a Dj while studying at the University of Fort Hare and also ran choirs throughout his life, was one of Msaki’s firrst influences. Her grandfather was also a well-known composer and songwriter therefore it comes as no surprise that at a young age Msaki knew that there was magic in music.
In 2008 while enrolled for a course in Visual Art and Design in East London, Msaki became a part of an alternative rock collective. She started spending time in friends’ studios and contributing to the underground music scene where music was recorded and shared unofficially. The songstress then went to Grahamstown to further her studies in Visual Art in 2009 and during this time formed her first band. She taught herself how to play the guitar in 2010 while studying Art at Leeds University, in England, where she was an exchange student as she spent many cold afternoons in her room writing songs.
For Msaki, the guitar was a song writing tool that gave her the independence she needed to create as and when a song beckoned. In 2011 she returned to Grahamstown and played often in the thriving indie singer-songwriter scene.
2012 was the year the singer-songwriter was selected out of over 900 applicants from all over the world to go study in North Carolina USA with 30 other artists, musicians and writers. The time she spent focused on creativity, spirituality and falling in love with music is what propelled Msaki into being a full-time independent performing artist. When she returned to South Africa she embarked on her career in music and signed herself to her own Indie Label, One Shushu Day Artistry.
Msaki creates a sound that combines soulful folk with symphonic movements, Xhosa lyrics and African poly-rhythms with portals of sincere improvisations. Her raw delivery disrupts your senses, leaving you moved and quietly longing for more as she weaves subtle tales of love, loss, home, revolution and hope. She plays with an ever-evolving and expanding band of incredible musicians from different musical backgrounds she calls the Golden Circle.
In 2013, Msaki independently recorded and released an EP called Nal’ithemba which was produced by Cobus Van Dyk. She then released her debut album Zaneliza: How the Water Moves, under her label One Shushu Day Artistry in 2016. Zaneliza is about loss, hope and the wave-like rhythms in between those two states of being. The album was co-produced with Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year for 2015, Nduduzo Makhathini. The album was partially crowd funded and self-funded. Msaki is currently promoting Zaneliza with exciting international appearances, nation-wide gigs and interesting collaborations lined up for 2017.
She has performed at Buyelekhaya Pan African Festival; Capitoli Music Festival in Pretoria; BMF National Annual AGM in Johannesburg; National Arts Festival Fringe in Grahamstown; the 2015 Metro FM Music Awards; Standard Bank Jazz Festival; Goethenburg Cultural Festival in Sweden; Mzantsi Cultural Festival; the Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience concert at Kyalami and she has performed to a full house at Soweto Theatre.
Msaki has shared stages with renowned artists like Nduduzo Makhathini, Salif Keita, Pops Mohammed, Madala Kunene, Vusi Mahlasela, Angelique Kidjo, Siphokazi Mohapi, Thandiswa Mazwai, and the Blk Jks amongst others. She has had two dance songs at the top of the local charts; one with Mobi Dixon with their hit song called Love Colour Spin and with a song called Springtide with house music veterans, Revolution. Iimfama Ziyabona, spent over 17 weeks on the charts at Metro FM, reached number 1 on the weekend charts of the second largest public radio station in South Africa uMhlobo Wenene, and is climbing steadily on other radio stations. Msaki and the Golden Circle won the Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award at the 2016 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and the Gold Award (1st place) for music, at Cape Town Fringe in 2016.
Msaki believes in the power that the arts hold to allow people to re-imagine themselves and the validity of every unique story. This year she has inspiring & moving performances and exciting projects lined up including a set with her band at Bush re Festival in Swaziland and a performance at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Msaki continues to be a pioneer in the music industry who blazes her own path. She is undoubtedly a strong musical force.
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