Introducing… Shiyani Ngcobo

COMPOSERS: Shiyani Ngcobo
LABELS: World Music Network
PERFORMER: Shiyani Ngcobo (voice, instruments), etc
CATALOGUE NO: INTRO 101 CD

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Meanwhile, a British-based label has picked up on Shiyani Ngcobo from KwaZulu-Natal. He is a well-established exponent of the region’s maskanda music in his own intimate, rural way – quite different from the formula-pop versions that thrive in South Africa.

Maskanda features distinctive guitar work and bursts of praise poetry, here supported by a quirky violinist, a concertina, a chorus and Ngcobo’s home-made oilcan guitar, or igogogo. A booklet note entertainingly documents the sessions, and accounts for some squawking birds – a couple of performers decided to play in the garden.

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Beyond the sparky, creative playing, the prime feature is Ngcobo’s light-voiced but intense, slightly husky singing.