South Africa’s entertainment scene is bustling with amazing talent and emerging artists whose drive and passion for making music inspires audiences locally and all across the world. From afro-funk to alternative pop, we are excited to #SupportLocal artists making waves in the music industry. Here’s a list of just a few of our favourites.
Since the release of his debut EP The Calling, multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, James Deacon, has been making his alternative pop prowess known all over radio and streaming.
After his single ‘Son Of Apollo’ was selected to soundtrack HBO’s 8-week movie promo campaign in America, follow up single ‘HERO aka Rich’ achieved a 6-week stint at #1 on 5FM’s Indie Chart, and Deacon’s work received online tastemaker support from Earmilk, Indie Shuffle and CLASH, to name but a few, as well as three Record Of The Day feature in the highly respected industry daily email newsletter.
Both his debut single “Not Givin’ Up” and his latest single “Reason” were included in the internationally syndicated import radio show Passport Approved, which culminated in him being invited to perform at Musexpo, the lauded international music and media conference, in Los Angeles. “Reason” has been playlisted on 947, 5FM, Algoa Fm as well as many others, and has received online support from Amazing Radio.
On the live front, securing an opening slot for global pop icons a-ha! at 6000+ capacity Marks Park Field in Johannesburg, the main stage performance at Park Acoustics Festival and confirmed main stage performance at Splashy Fen, only reinforce Deacon’s desire to dominate not only the charts, but the stage too, proving that he really is on a scintillating roll.
EMERGER is an alt-pop duo that produces dreamy, synth-driven melodies, cinematic progressions, powerful pop vocals, and punchy beats.
Made up of Emma de Goede (lead vocalist/pianist), and Gerry Matthee (producer/multi-instrumentalist), EMERGER has been making waves both nationally and overseas.
Their debut single, ‘Break & Fall’ was a winner of the Avid and Abbey Road Studios International Song Contest, and had the opportunity to travel to Abbey Road Studios in London for the mastering of this winning song. They were also selected as Apple Music’s New Artist Spotlight for the month of July in 2018. Their music has been featured on various Apple Music playlists, including 10 Albums You Must Hear This Month as well as on the BBC Introducing radio show in the UK.
They have since hosted live, sold-out shows, opened for GoodLuck and performed at a number of popular music venues around Cape Town and Johannesburg.
MERGER released their first official music video on 22 April 2020 for their single “Urban Wilderness”. On 29 May 2020 they released an uptempo 80’s inspired synth-pop reimagination of this song, “Urban Wilderness (Reimagined)”.
Wandile Mbambeni is a singer, songwriter and producer making waves through the soul market internationally. Be it experimental, folk, or Afro-soul, the young artist is successfully grounding his feet in an ever-changing industry.
Wandile released his first project, titled Home Grown, in 2014. The seven-track EP led the budding artist on a 35-day tour of Germany, featuring sold-out shows throughout the country.
2015 brought Mbambeni’s Good Intentions, featuring 10 original tracks on this first full-length acoustic project. Wandile’s song, ‘Lovers Like You,’ off of his Maturation EP, was ranked as one of the Top 20 Songs in South Africa in 2016 on the music blog, Texx in the City. Later that year, Mbambeni ranked as one of the Top 20 performers at the Rocking the Daisies festival, which featured over 270 acts, such as Mac Miller, AKA, Hugh Masekela, Foster the People and more.
In 2017 Wandile Mbambeni signed his first record deal with Gallo Record Company, South Africa’s oldest record label. In anticipation of his debut album, Wandile opened for international artist, Lira. Later that year, Wandile released his debut album, Kwakumnandi, a 13 track album featuring LasNumber, Bongeziwe Mabandla and Shekinah.
Shane Cooper is a bassist, composer and producer part of the new wave of South African Jazz artists pushing the music forward. He is also known for his work in the electronic/dance music world, as well as commissioned works for films and theatre.
In 2013 he was selected as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz in South Africa. In 2014 Oscillations won the South African Music Award (SAMA) for Best Jazz Album. The projects he is currently involved in are MABUTA, the Kyle Shepherd Trio, the Reza Khota Quartet, Skyjack, a new quartet with Benedikt Reising, Thandi Ntuli and Paul Amereller, as well as his electronic music alias Card On Spokes.
Shane has also performed and/or recorded with artists like Zim Ngqawana, Lionel Loueke, Shabaka Hutchings, Talvin Singh, Feya Faku, Louis Moholo-Moholo, Malcolm Braff, Nils Berg, Soweto Kinch, Afrika Mkhize, Spoek Mathambo, Nonku Phiri, Young Fathers, Ndabo Zulu’s album produced by Derrick Hodge, and Daedelus’ 2019 album released on Flying Lotus’ label Brainfeeder.
As a composer for film Shane has written music for the award-winning documentaries Forerunners by Simon Wood, Orbis by Simon Wood, Port Nolloth: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Felix Seuffert, and co-produced the orchestral recording of Kyle Shepherd’s score for the feature film Noem My Skollie.
Thandi Ntulie comes from a lineage of rich musical heritage, being the niece of guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of 70’s pop fusion band Harari (The Beaters), Selby Ntuli.
At the tender age of 4, she started taking classical piano lessons under the tutelage of Ada Levkowitz. However, her keen interest for jazz was only kindled later in life, leading her to enroll and complete a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at The University of Cape Town.
Since the release of her debut jazz album, “The Offering” which she released independently, Thandi is fast making an imprint in the local jazz scene with her unique voice. “The Offering” has received critical acclaim as well as numerous awards and recognition since its release in 2014, namely a MetroFM award nomination for “Best Urban Jazz” in 2015.
Her compositions draw from a wide array of influences, this she attributes to the collaborative culture of jazz that has seen her working closely with many artists, across genres. Some of her most notable collaborations include Thandiswa Mazwai, Neo Muyanga, Steve Dyer, QB Smith (UK/SA), Marcus Wyatt, The Brother Moves On, Sir LSG, Bheki Khoza, Siya Makuzeni and many more.
With over ten years of experience performing in and around South Africa, ESP Afrika Young Legends award winner Lana Crowster has become one of the most prominent young artists to emerge from the Cape Town music scene.
From humble beginnings to sharing stages with international stars George Benson and Josh Groban, Lana has gone from strength to strength.
Lana is a singer/songwriter and arranger with a stage presence and performance quality that is seldom seen or experienced. Fluent in jazz, pop, RnB, house, funk, hip hop and contemporary, all these styles combined to create a unique sound that lends to a unique musical experience.
In 2014 she released her debut EP entitled “SEASONS” independently. Co-produced by Lana and award-winning Jazz pianist Bokani Dyer, “SEASONS” is a blend of inspirations and influences of her musical past, commentary on the present while evoking emotions through her compelling story-telling style.
This versatile performer has also shared stages with numerous local artists from Karen Zoid, Kurt Darren to Toya Delazy and GoodLuck. She has also performed at SA’s biggest music festivals including the Standard Bank Jazzathon, Suidoosterfees and Cape Town International Jazz Festival, ad competed on the first-ever The Voice South Africa.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, Ziza moved to South Africa and finished her bachelor’s degree in music at the Wits University.
The jazz vocalist released her debut album in March 2015 titled ‘Ziza Muftic Quartet: Silver moonbeams’. ‘Ziza: Shining hour’, 2019, is her second independent album release.
She has featured on a number of Jazz albums and performed with some of South Africa’s top Jazz musicians like Sydney Mnisi, Reza Khota, and Marcus Wyatt.
She was also asked to sing a piece for voice and a chamber orchestra, at the SAMRO 2018 composer’s finals, where the composition won in category.
Today, Ziza manages her time between teaching, composing music, as well as performing at various venues.
Based in Johannesburg, the Cherry Pill sound is a blend of musical styles ranging from acoustic folk to upbeat pop-rock, with strong influences from classical and jazz music.
The band consists of Kristel Birkholtz (vocals, violin, viola, piano and flute) and Rory Gaddin (vocals, guitar, piano, synths).
Thoughtful lyrics and sweet vocal harmonies are underpinned by the soaring melodies of Kristel’s classically-trained violin playing and Rory’s blues and rock-infused
Their latest recording ‘Chocolate Box’ will take you on a musical journey, with each song evoking a different emotion – from the wistful romanticism of “Silent Movie” to the darkly brooding “Bare”, the pulsing rhythms of “Shoreline” to the tender contemplation of “Things on My Mind”.
Utilising a combination of catchy, sing-along melodies, penetrating lyrics, searing rap vocals and a poignant live show – Fruit Vendor creates a fresh sound that appeals to a diverse audience.
Fruit Vendor is an eclectic Afropop music project from Cape Town, South Africa that fuses elements of ghoema, maskandi, funk, hip hop, RnB, rock and jazz.
The band consists of Josh (lead vocals/keys/acoustic guitar), Adrian (electric guitar). Rosco (bass) and Jason (drums).
In 2018, they won the Barleycorn Music Club’s annual songwriting competition and in 2019 won the best band category in the Stonebear & Mayor Records eMerge Music Competition. They’ve shared stages with David Kramer, Die Antwoord, Kahn Morbee (The Parlotones), Prime Circle, Karen Zoid and more.
Lo-Ghost is a Capetonian cult-pop duo consisting of Shannon Devy and Evan Strauss. Their music is characterised by a fearless, emotive presentation of the harder aspects of the human condition, from the queer experience to grief and loneliness.
Their ability to connect quickly with an audience has earned them an energetic and devoted following in their hometown and beyond, with their music accruing over 500 000 streams world-wide in 2018 alone.
Lo-Ghost started their journey mid-2016 with a debut video release for Ghost in a Blood Machine, the lead single off their first EP Mother. Choreographed by Chester Martinez (FKA Twigs, ‘Honey 2’) and Devon Marshbank, the work was picked up and featured by media outlets across the continent. They have since gone on to release two full-length albums, a podcast series, multiple singles, a limited-edition vinyl release and multiple live performance videos.
Micaela Kleinsmith is a singer-songwriter/guitarist who has done many different things in her short career.
During her High school days, she had performed on stages such as the Grandest Grand Arena, Waterfront Amphitheater, Cape Town International Airport, Jazz on the lawn and In many places with a choir in Germany Stuttgart.
She has competed on Season 12 of SA Idols where she made it to the group rounds and won the Parow Talent search competition. Named one of KFM’s top 10 singer-songwriters in Cape Town in 2019, Micaela has opened for Craig Lucas and has partnered with Bluroom records on a collaborative EP called the Bluroom series.
She has since recorded and released five songs for the EP, two of which have been playlisted on the Heart 104.5 FM and Hot 919 in Johannesburg.
Micaela’s most recent project was the release of her newest single, “Will I Ever”, which has received radio play on KFM and Smile FM.
Sean Sanby is a Cape Town-based bassist, composer and producer with numerous accolades under his belt.
He was chosen for the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival(2015/2016) featuring his own compositions, In 2013 and 2014, he was selected to be in the Standard Bank Schools Big Band directed by Ian Darrington (UK) & Mike Campbell(SA) as part of the Grahamstown Jazz Festival. In 2017 he took part in an Italian exchange as part of the Arcevia Jazz Festival and won the Fine Music Radio Music Bursary Competition ins 2018.
Sean has performed with a number of artists and groups across genres, including the UCT Big Band, Mandisi Dyantyis, Mandla Mlangeni, Ramon Alexander, Luna Paige, The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and many more.
Paige Mac has been described as an undeniably talented musician, “a musical phenomenon waiting to happen”. Her acoustic soul with a folk edge makes Paige Mac the quintessential collective the world is fast embracing each time lead singer, songwriter and guitarist Paige Mac Mahon strikes a chord.
Throughout her career in the fertile music scene of Cape Town, Paige has been winning over the hearts and minds of music lovers of all forms. Her resonant voice has been described as “reminiscent of Adele” and her Alternative style of writing has been wholesomely accepted and gained her a firm and dedicated following.
Paige Mac has released two official studio EP’s, A Moment’s Nostalgia and Let The Right One’s In, both available on all major online stores.