Simphiwe Dana

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b. 1980, Gcuwa, Transkei, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Dana’s father was a preacher and as she grew up she heard church music in both choral and gospel forms. From 2002 she sang in small clubs in Johannesburg…
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Artist Biography by

b. 1980, Gcuwa, Transkei, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Dana’s father was a preacher and as she grew up she heard church music in both choral and gospel forms. From 2002 she sang in small clubs in Johannesburg where she began attracting attention. She made a major impact in South Africa with the release in 2004 of Zandisile. The album sold very well and gained several awards, including a South African Music Award (SAMA) as Best Jazz Vocal album in 2005. Dana also received a SAMA as Best Newcomer. On its worldwide release the album gained success in the Billboard charts and she won an AVO Session Basel Award.

Dana, who has been likened to singers such as Miriam Makeba and Dorothy Masuka, sings an artful musical form that blends traditional African music with contemporary soul and hence shows hints of gospel and blues. The depth of her musical portrayals is such that she has drawn approval from an older generation of South Africans, especially women, while her youth and grasp of contemporary pop has endeared her to the young audience. Among the songs in Dana’s repertoire are ‘Ndiredi’, ‘Troubled Soldier’, ‘Chula Ukunyathela’, ‘Bantu Biko Street’, ‘Zundiqondisise’, ‘Uzobuya Nini’, ‘Sonini Nanini’ and ‘Naphakade’. She also sings the theme song of the Yizo Yizo television show.