The days when jazz was considered “old people’s music” are long gone. So says, musician Nomfundo Xaluva, whose second album, From.Now. On, has been nominated for a Metro FM Award in the best urban jazz album category.
“Being a jazz musician still has a lot of challenges,” explains Xaluva. “We don’t get as much exposure as genres such as house and hip-hop, but we have come a long way since the days when jazz was not cool. “Jazz musicians are increasingly influencing sounds of genres such as house music. I just wish we had a bigger slice of the pie when it comes to exposure.”
Last year, Xaluva’s debut album, Kusile, won the best urban jazz album category. It’s often said by industry insiders that musicians who have a successful debut album tend to struggle to release a second album which is just as good, or better. But Xaluva’s latest album was well thought out.
“The title of the album, From. Now.On, is just a different way of saying past, present and future,” she says. “I wanted to pay tribute to the jazz musicians who came before me with a contemporary twist to their music. This album is a celebration of our musical heritage.”
She believes the key to her success has been her ability to use her voice as an instrument for authentic storytelling. “I’ve always prioritised the quality of my songs over everything else in my career. I only write music when I have something to say about my life and experience.”
Xaluva started singing as a child in her church choir. When she was older, her grandfather encouraged her to learn to play the piano – an instrument she’s always been fascinated by. She studied at the University of Cape Town where she obtained a masters degree in jazz studies with a thesis titled The Analysis of the Musical Style of Miriam Makeba.
“I’m very lucky to have had the opportunity to get an education in music and learn how to play an instrument. It’s something which has really set me apart from my peers in the industry.”
With a strong education in music, it made sense for Xaluva to take a job as a vocals teacher at the Cape Academy Of Performing Arts. “Teaching has been a great privilege for me,” she says.
“I’m not only teaching young people how to use their voices as instruments, but I also play a big part in inspiring them. My students also help me to keep my own machine well oiled and they teach me a lot about what young people are interested in, musically.” Looking ahead, she says:
“As a musician, your plan is always the same – getting more people to listen to your music.”