Name: Yolanda Zama
Where She’s From: South Africa
Genre: Afro-folk soul (or Afro-coustic soul)
Most Similar: Miriam Makeba meets Les Nubians
When She Started: 2010
Sounds Like: Smooth cultural melodies with a funky edge
Yolanda Zama may very well be one of the promising new voices representing the nouvel Afrique movement that has been progressively taking over the music scene in recent years. Ever wondered what South African icon Miriam Makeba would sound like set to a modern backdrop, afront a slew of young, hungry contemporary listeners? That about partially sums up the soulful air that Zama, a Jo’burg native, charismatically offers.
One part rising folk star and one part sophisticate, the newcomer singer/songwriter’s unique blend of urban sound is definitely one that meets the streets of Jo’burg and New York City simultaneously sans effort. Perhaps her organic flow stems from an earlier need, when she funneled her years as a young political exile during Apartheid South Africa living and honing her melodic skills in Harlem. Either way, and whether singing in English or her native tongue, Xhosa, Zama’s words carry feelings. And as her recent performance opening up for Goapele at NYC’s Central Park Summerstage suggests, Yolanda Zama is simply unforgettable.
Listen to “Vuka” by Yolanda Zama below: