Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), a small land-locked kingdom that shares borders with South Africa and Mozambique, benefits from cultural exchange with its neighbors. The music of the Eswatini people has also been influenced greatly by the styles and sounds of neighboring countries. However, what is called Eswatini or Swazi music now, is an integration of western styles, and traditional music. Being part of the new generation of musical breeds, Velemseni is a soul artist and guitarist whose roots are firmly planted in the Kingdom of Eswatini. Her songs reflect an aesthetic of jazz, rock, and neo-soul. She was part of a poetry group called Rooted Soulz; later she transitioned from spoken word to singing. Velemseni entered the scene when she featured on two songs off Mozaik and KrTC’s iconic hip-hop album, “Siyinqaba”.
“My roots in hip-hop, however brief, really left a swiftness in wordplay and rhyme in my style. The world of rap, especially with young cats, can be full of a lot of anger and frustration. I think as a reaction to that, my music is more open, sparse, and gentle. It is very easy to meander between both realms of style because they are authentic parts of who I am,” she told Okay Africa.
Naturally, Velemseni is “a strong and rebellious soul” and her music aims to interpret and document a mystique drawn from genres like Swazi gospel, soul, African soul, cinematic and traditional music. Her debut album, “We are People” released in 2014, was an impressive mix of soothing vocals, and classic melodies. Despite this year being an emotional roller-coaster and a financial black hole for the entertainment industry, Velemseni continues to push harder to get her voice heard. Her recent projects “Shisa” to “Barely” prove she is truly Eswatini’s Queen of Soul music who will leave a footprint on the global canvas.
Photo: Velemseni, Facebook