The Umlazi born Joburg based mystic singer/songwriter known as Umaah arises from the vanguard of new black artists in South Africa blooming in tandem across a vast array of creative disciplines aiming to reconfigure Africa’s narrative through aesthetics. Growing up in the barmy urban cacophony of Durban,Kwa-Zulu Natal, she was plunged into a whirlpool of musical influences from a formative age.
Song was her first discernable language. Her birth place in the animated Umlazi Township was swollen with the sounds of Zulu folk music, Motown and Afro-jazz, cultivating her first palette of reference to music.
When she grew older she nomadically gravitated toward R&B, neo-soul and hip-hop influences eventually settling in the emergent leftfield electronica scene erupting in South Africa’s largest cities. She now creates a cornucopian blend of emotive electronic music rooted in hip-hop, neo-soul brazed with Afro-Caribbean rhythmic influences. Through the genre-bending medium of electronica, she delicately interweaves ethnocentric elements into her songs including those of her native oral tradition.
Her raspy voiced harmonies are evocative of the guttural chants of the Nguni spiritual doctors common to her homeland. Being a fashion design graduate and self-taught musician, Umaah’s aesthetic is moulded around the tactile and naturalist possibilities of music. Her often philosophically themed songs gleam with layers of melodious texture. The timeworn, granular tones of her voice, resembling decadent folds of smoked silk, forms the hauntingly raw foreground to her music, shadowed by low-end heavy beat compositions.
Umaah’s compelling range as a live performer has escorted her to a wide variety of coveted local stages, playing unforgettable sets at festivals including Splashy Fen, Awesome Africa, Smoking Dragon and Moshito Beat and Interpret Durban. And in November 2016 she was selected as the second runner up of the My Connect Music Session, the culmination of which was a series of live performances in New York City. Umaah’s collaborations as a recording artist have been equally eclectic with acts such as fellow Durbanite indie artist Moonchild Sanelly, Raheem Kemet, , Ian Kamau (Canada), Young Nations(US) , Faka (Italy) and Micr.Pluto adorning her list of past collaborators.
Now being the newest artist of Johannesburg based Indie Record label Subterranean Wavelength, she has just completed her first official EP titled SHEILA. The record will be her fist solo release and will be executively produced by SUbWav co-founder Joburg beat aficionado Micr.Pluto , The futrospective EP is a matriarchal themed eulogy to her grandmother and is due to be released in the winter of 2018