Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
18 Sep 2013
9:00 am

Laid back and lyrical

Kulani Nkuna

It is not every day that great vocal talent is revealed on a sports show, but such was the case for Naima Kay, real name Lungile Khumalo.

Thursday Night Live With Marawa has positioned itself as more than a mere sports show due to its selection of top artists to perform at the end of each broadcast. Khumalo performed Lelinga, a gospel-infused tune, inspiring the presenters in the studio and many a sports fans’ heart to rejoice – if the show’s social media platforms are anything to go by.

“I remember that performance very well, because it is not often that we perform at sports shows,” laughs Khumalo.

“Although my album is more jazzy, Lelilanga holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of my days growing up in church with my grandmother always by my side. It is symbolic of the person I am before the troubles and ills of the world can change me.”



The talented songstress has just released a sophomore album entitled Umsebenzi. It is a ba-lanced effort, catering to a variety of tastes – very much the forte of production duo Robbie Malinga and Mojalefa “Mjakes” Thebe, who were also the team behind Zahara’s first album. Khumalo is certainly not an average talent, but some more risk taking in terms of production and lyrical structure on this otherwise solid effort might have stood her in good stead. Khumalo disagrees.

“The first single has been well received and everywhere I go people have had only good things to say about my album.

“Both old and young people are behind this project and the album is doing well in stores.”

Umsebenzi sticks to the known Afro-pop formula with compositions that are good, if just short of great. The upside, as Khumalo correctly says, is that this offering is well-positioned to please many people from different walks of life.

“I think the album is entertaining, easy to listen to and stands a chance to even get recognition beyond our borders,” says Khumalo.

While Afro-pop is not as prominent a genre now as it was five to seven years ago, Khumalo makes a compelling case for restoring it to its former glory, while exploring other sounds.

“I love writing, because it affords me the opportunity to be honest with myself first before other elements to the songs are added,” she says.

“I am a shy, quiet person, so writing enables me to interact and communicate through song. Performance comes more naturally for me since I have been performing in church since I was a young child.”

From the opening song until the last number on Umsebenzi, it is easy to tell that the artist has spent more than enough time mastering her vocal talent. She is comfortable in the recording space and, even though she worked with some big names, her own stamp and style is evident. Khumalo accepts life on stage in a laid-back manner and she is equally comfortable backstage at a television show as she is making appearances on radio shows.