Ancient Voices performing at the Plett Food & Film, Night of Kalahari Enchantment at Plett ARTS Festival
Meet Lungiswa Plaatjies, a Cape native born and raised in Langa township. She is tall, elegant and her main preoccupation is her mission to catapult the music and culture of her people into the limelight. Armed with an mbira and powerful and unique vocal cords, Lungiswa is an immense fresh South African talent. As part of the group Amampondo she has bewitched worldwide, and been the recipient of many accolades.
“I have come across people showering me with praises abroad” she comments. “This affirmation is enough reason for me to continue making music.”
Her performances abroad have invariably affirmed the enduring mix of musical, cultural and spiritual depth of the African continent. Lulu is unfazed by the international spotlight she was under as one of the lead singers of Amampondo, one of South Africa’s neo-traditional sensations. “I have travelled around the world and visited many countries abroad. What I’ve learnt is that a true artist must serve the people; this is what I want to do. It’s really the only way I can thank God for blessing me with the gift of this voice” she explains.
The fact that she’s a relatively unknown entity within her home country does not really bother Lungiswa. She says, “Listen, music is not about being famous. It is a means of connecting with the ancestors, relating the ills of society and helping to heal those who are touched by the music. This is a calling for me.”
It is no wonder therefore that she started her singing career at the tender age of seven and later went on to be the lead female vocalist of Amampondo, where she joined her uncle Dizu Plaatjies who founded the group in 1979. Lungiswa’s debut album with recording company MELT2000 was an album aptly titled EKHAYA. It was an eclectic album, which offered amongst other things, a Xhosa-language version of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues.”
Lungiswa has a haunting and bewitching voice and ably weaves traditional songs with contemporary sounds. She’s the only South African female musician to play the mbira and incorporate it into her compositions. In addition to her accomplishments with Amampondo and her solo album, Lungiswa has featured in recording with luminaries like Madala Kunene, Madosini, four-piece maskanda outfit Skeleton, and Swiss guitarist Max Lasser. She counts Letta Mbulu, Miriam Makeba, Salif Keita and Anikulapo Fela Kuti amongst her favourite musicians.
Lulu has now teamed up with Don Laka and opened her account with Bokone Music with exquisitely crafted albums, Unonkala and Mamelani, full of humour and spirituality, and steeped in the lives and ways of the Xhosa people.
This year, Lungiswa performs at the Plett ARTS Festival 2021. You can’t afford to miss the Plett Food & Film evening of Kalahari enchantment if only to experience the exceptional performance by Lungiswa Plaatjies, joined by Nomaposile Nyiki of Ancient Voices.
The two met in 2014 in a Holland Production titled South African Road Trip and immediately formed Ancient Voices the same year. In 2015 the Holland Production toured the Netherlands with the theme Tribute to Nelson Mandela, for three months. By public demand the production returned for the next two years with a new theme, Celebrating Life.
In February 2017 Lungiswa was nominated to compose a fifteen-minute composition for Mbira, Uhadi and Umrhubhe instruments, for the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival coordinated by Neo Muyanga. Shortly thereafter, Lungiswa became a resident composer for the Johannesburg festival, with Mattihijs van Dijk. In 2018 Nomapostile Nyike became part of a group of 3 young composers invited to join the team for the composition and performance of San Song, using panpipes, voice, marimba, violin, double bass, djembe and small percussions.
The Ancient Voices team is composed of arrangers, composers, songwriters, poets and vocalists using African indigenous instruments. Their passion is to revive the lesser-known African instruments and introduce ancient African sound to the present generation through collaboration with other genres like classical, jazz and opera, presentations that were never part of the old days. Their wish is to transfer their knowledge to schools and academic institutions through workshops and performances.
Nomapostile Nyiki studied and completed her Performer’s Diploma in African Music in 2014 from the University of Cape Town, with various subjects relating to diverse aspects of culture, indigenous African instruments, African music history, African music theory, World music, African oral performance and practical performance in African dance, indigenous instruments including classical percussions and vocals.
As part of extramural activity, she is a Xhosa singer, dancer, composer and poet, active as a singer and performer since an early age. She also specialises in the playing of various African instruments such as the Uhadi, Umrhube, Nyungwe-nyungwe, Kundi harp, percussion, xylophones and many more. Through dedication she finished her diploma with distinctions within the allocated time.
Her musical ability has been given recognition by numerous invitations to perform on stages like Artscape, the Baxter Theatre, the Good Hope Centre and Cape Town City Hall. Nomapostile was selected to perform African indigenous music in Sweden and toured the Netherlands twice as part of a South African traditional music project. She is currently working on a solo music project as a professional performer.
Lungiswa Plaatjies was nominated for Best Newcomer, 2002 at the SA Music Awards, and nominated for 2 Kora Awards in the same year.
Ancient Voices is performing as part of the Plett Food & Film event, featuring the documentary, The Great Dance – a Hunter’s Story, on Saturday 2 October at The White House.