Even though the platform is suffering financially, Soundcloud is still a top notch source of good music. My introduction to Nirvana Nokwe’s music is testament to that. “She Want A G63” begins with a piano instrumental to Nirvana’s balmy, afternoon before dusk, languid drives along De Waal Drive voice. By the time the beat drops, you’re so engrossed in the vibe that you almost feel cheated when the song ends at 2 minutes and 45 seconds. At least, this is what I felt moments before foraging through the internet for more of her work.
The Nokwe-Mselekus: a musical bloodline
Nirvana describes her family as musical and artistic. Her mother and father, Tu Nokwe and Bheki Mseleku, brought art into her home, but she had to learn to be professional just as quickly to stake her own claim to the industry. With musicians and actresses around her during her childhood, music weeded its way into her heart at four years old.
The young singer would tour Europe with her mother’s art school and participated in cultural exchanges with Umoja Flying Carpet. If you had never seen Nirvana’s face before today, it is likely that you heard her voice. As a child and tween, Nirvana was working on music for advertisements, background music for films, and voice over work. Over the years, she has sang with revered South African musicians like Hugh Masekela, Shaluza Max, and Busi Mhlongo. Even though her union to the entertainment industry was initiated by her family, Nirvana believes that everything happens for a reason. “If I had the same talents I have, and the same vibe, I think I would have [found my way to the arts],” she muses.
Pinpointing a single sound for the singer is difficult, given the variety of sounds in her Xhulu Playlist. The playlist only came about as a way to order the music she had produced over the past three years. “Xhulu” features a cover of Beyoncé’s hit track “Formation”, live and studio versions of four original songs, and a track she produced with Strobe Light Studios. Per usual among musicians, she did not reveal too much about music to come.
Music and seduction
Nirvana is comfortable in front of the camera as well as behind it. She has been mentored in photography by Simphiwe Mkhwanazi and has appeared on various television advertisements, film, and television shows. Her debut role was as a supporting lead in Beathur Mgoza’s 2014 film, “The Manicurist”. She played the roles of Simone on Generations: The Legacy, Phazamisa on Ngempela, and she made TLC’s Next Great Presenter Search’s top 13 to mention a few. Even with this, music has always been her leading role.
“The message that [a song] is pushing is within you. I think music on its own is hypnotic; it seduces people,” according to Nokwe. For that reason, her draw to music is the same as that of the listener…she, too, was seduced. Even though the she found herself enchanted by music, she enjoys being able to evoke a similar feeling in her listeners. With every song, Nirvana hopes to not only create a beautiful piece of art, but also to create a moment for listeners to feel the things they wouldn’t normally allow themselves.
Selling out concert arenas is any artist’s dream, however the importance of intimate venues for musician’s like Nirvana are paramount. The Nirvana On The Roof showcase saw her performing with a band on a rooftop in Maboneng. Watching her audience fall under her spell and live in the moment were some of the best parts of the event for her. Nokwe further hinted at another performance scheduled for Heritage Month, so keep an eye out!
Holding image: ©Themba Buda