JOVIAL Soweto Theatre general manager, Nomsa Mazwai switched tack and roles to treat music lovers to her creative side by delving into her alter ego going by the curious identity, Nomisupasta (pronounced, Nomi – superstar) – when she performed songs from her popular debut album at the trending venue, on a cool Saturday evening.
Her debut, self-titled album Nomisupasta won a South African Music Award for Best African alternative.
Nomisupasta, born Nomsa Mazwai, is an academic with a Masters degree from New York City, a published author and poet. With an infectious energy and a boldness that cannot be matched, one of her career highlights includes performing at the United Nations’ General Assembly in New York.
The last born of erstwhile Sowetan senior journalist, Thami Mazwai’s three artistically talented daughters (who include the more well-known Bongo Maffin vocalist, Thandiswa, as well as poetess, Ntsiki) – her impressive resume include being the first female SRC president at the University of Fort Hare, and also being regarded as the voice that traversed the planet with the hit Single “Traveler” with Black Coffee, the METRO FM classic “With You” which went on to be sampled by 9th Wonder for Rapsody’s Idea of beautiful album, or the Kaya FM #1 hit single “Maybe I” – making her without a doubt, the epitome of Black Girl Magic.
Very passionate about the growth and development of Soweto, where she was born and raised, Nomsa has moved back to live there and engages with the locals on a regular basis, understanding their needs and ensuring that those needs are met.
Going back to her roots staging a performance with a full band, she shared her craft, following sharing her leadership and vision of the theatre at Soweto, her show on the evening opened with a tribute to recently fallen fellow musos, Thandi Klaasen and Lundi Tyamara by belting out a jazzy Sophiatown evoking ditty, and the gospel piece, “Mphefumulo Wam’” – aptly under an unlit stage with images of the departed duo flashed on the stage backdrop.
When the lights came on, revealing her backing crew, with herself pivotally centered and donning an eclectically hued costume with a protruding wingspan – she began by describing the rather recent sad developments as a “turbulent time.”
Watched by a sold-out crowd which numbered Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Tshidi Moholo in its midst, she had her audience eating out of her hand whilst she periodically issued forth trademark laughter as she rendered offerings about love being overrated and whilst at interludes, telling the appreciative attendees of her effort at avoiding being hated by concert-goers as was once the case with Eryka Badu.
A recited poem named Ebony and Ivory had the backdrop flashing a huge canvas of Madiba and Winnie, holding hands inside a stadium gathering, as the evening’s star act expounded away on issues of inequality – all the while she actively encouraged the crowd to interact with the show, in addition to alternating from Sotho to Zulu seamlessly and with the requisite natural accents.
On a track titled ‘The Emperor’ has no clothes on, the rendition – again accompanied by a backdrop image, this time of a Hoggenheimer-esque pig in smug human attire – had Nomisupasta now in her element as she laughed raucously at her own jokes and mockery of ridiculous societal states of play!
Unmistakably dry behind the ears, in spite of her youth, Mazwai knows stagecraft and is a mistress storyteller either on song, poetry or a genre known as poem-song and nowhere did that evidently filter through, than on an offering ridiculing the predicament of, of all subject matters one could pen lyrics about, an imaginary cockroach.
After a brief remission, the now warmed up audience was, as promised, treated to new pieces performed whilst she shared the stage with dancers either wearing fluorescent outfits or plain ones and under variable lighting moods – whilst a video of herself performing rolled away on the background screen.
A song titled, “Anything can happen now” had her on a surprise duet with ex member of acapella outfit, The Soil, and now solo artist, Samthing Soweto and that wasn’t to be the only duet moment the venue got to savour as some songs more down the list, she also featured, Urban Village to a flute accompaniment on a rendering named ‘First Contact’ and dedicated to her late mother, Belede. “You’re the only true friend I have in the world”, the kid sibling sang soulfully with a tinge of nostalgia.
“Play it for your daughters”, she urged the audience upon wrapping up a poem-song titled, “Little Girl”.
In a generous mood, she concessioned to those attending by letting them in on a surprise gesture that they were going to be part participants in a new song where they’d be recorded joining in on a chorus which would have them singing in unison, a line which went, la-lalalala-la-lalala!
The song was going to debut on social media, and the singer was going to credit the whole lot as they were part of the live recording at the show.
On a normal day, she suggested to her fans, she looks colourful on the inside – going on to cheekily add that she was not getting paid for the gig, as that would be deemed a “confusion of interest”, owing to being the venue’s administrator.
She also thanked attendees for buying tickets to the show, including those who gained access through compliments – especially considering that it was “Januworry!”
Mazwai certainly delivered a fun-filled show of all Nomisupasta’s hits.
“I always wanted to be an artist and a leader. People always asked me, when there comes a time to choose one, what will you choose? I always answered, both. I am so honored that at Soweto theatre I can,” the singer commented.