Zambian-Scottish singer and songwriter, Namvula ( which means ‘mother of rain) , has been described as a “ true Original” by the Guardian . She is also a photographer, workshop facilitator, and Co-Founding Director of Film Africa, London’s largest celebration of African cinema and culture. Moved by life – by its beauty and ugliness, its creativity, its tenderness and cruelty, and the power of the stories that it holds, both simple and complex, Namvula sees music and photography as mirrors to what she sees.
She was born in Zambia to a Zambian mother and Scottish Father and has lived in Scotland ,Switzerland, USA and Kenya before settling in the UK. The mixture of cultural experiences can be felt throughout her music, which includes song in Lenje , English , French and Portuguese .
Her debut album “Shiwezwa”( which is named after the village her great-great grandmother came from) was released in November 2014 to critical acclaim, and was selected as one of the top 100 albums of 2014 by The Sunday Times. She has been named as one of the 13 voices for the future of African music by Rede Angola alongside artists including Fatoumata Diawara , Jupiter & Okwess international and Sidiki Diabate .
The album release was followed by numerous radio and TV appearances, including the BBC’s Focus on Africa, Jazz FM , BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour , BBC Radio 3’s World on 3 and ZNBC TV and radio , as well as airplay on various stations including late junction and world routes .
Namvula travels as a four to six piece band comprising vocals, percussion, guitar, bass, saxophone and drums . The band is based in London, England.
Fusing the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland and her Scottish roots with London’s eclectic music scene, Namvula blends African sounds and rhythms with Latin, jazz and folk into uplifting and emotive songs. Crossing boundaries with a refreshing honesty and evocative lyricism, Namvula’s music transports listeners into different worlds, whilst staying firmly rooted in African soil.
One of the few Zambian artists performing in Europe, Namvula has collaborated and shared the stage with artists including legendary South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela, multi-award winning Zambian singer Maureen Lilanda, and sitarist Anoushka Shankar. She is working with some of the UK’s most respected African, jazz and folk musicians, including Mercury-nominated Led Bib bassist and producer Liran Donin and saxophonist Chris Williams, percussionist Mamadou Sarr (Baaba Maal), and guitarist Jack Ross (Cerys Matthews, Lucy Ward).
Namvula is also a creative music-making and choral workshop facilitator for groups of all ages, believing in the power of music to uplift and engage. She is fully CRB-certified.
Every story and experience is complex and individual, but, ultimately, it is human. As such, she has worked largely as an independent issues-based photographer; her work has been published in magazines and on websites including The Africa Report, Songlines magazine, Le Monde (AP), the New York Times (AP), theWashington Post online (AP) and the BBC. Work for development and publicity campaigns includes the UN-IPC Humanizing Development global photography campaign (with 2010 global tour), the International Rescue Committee, and Student Partnership Worldwide. She has also photographed for theatre shows, musicians and touring companies. Now and then, she also holds solo exhibition.
Namvula is next month expected to undertake a tour of Southern Africa which will see her perform in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. she will perform in Zimbabwe at Tristan’s, Harare (October 13), Alliance Francaise, Harare (October 24), in Zambia at The Other Side, Lusaka (October 21) before heading to Namibia for shows at FNCC, Windhoek (October 28) and La Brocante, Windhoek (October 29).
“I am super stoked that we’re hitting southern Africa (and, I have to admit, slightly nervous…home turf and all of that!). I’ll be performing five shows in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, made possible by the generosity of the Swiss Council arm in SA Pro Helvetia,” she writes on her website.
“I feel especially fortunate to be able to collaborate with musician friends from Zambia and Zimbabwe on this particular tour, including Jacob Mafuleni – the percussionist/mbira player for the late Chiwoniso, and one of my favourite guitarists of all time, Zambian legend Sir Jones.”
“Stay in touch via Facebook and Instagram while we’re on the road, I’ll be posting pics and videos of our many adventures and (hopefully fewer!) mis-adventures… As a lover of movement across borders and conversations of all kinds, this programme that I’m curating for Modzi Arts (a new art space in Lusaka) seems natural,” she says.
‘Afro Luso will bring together artistes from across disciplines and southern African borders, to share and celebrate the commonality and diversity of creative expression. Follow Afro Luso and Modzi Arts on Instagram or Facebook.
Listen to her Music :
Interact with Namvula on social media :
Bandcamp : Namvula
Official website : namvula.com