Black music transcends time, space and region. And good music invites the listener to journey into pasts even as it ushers them into futures. The release of Marvel’s groundbreaking Black Panther has been touted as a blockbuster film centering the fictional African Kingdom of Wakanda, but it is more than a visual fête. It also presents audiences with the opportunity to enter a new sonically Black world.
The list below includes some of my favorite musical artists creating within Africa, mainly South Africa, which is where I am from. The artists featured keep me moving and grooving. This list is not exhaustive, but they are definitely several you should be playing at your Wakandan-themed parties.
Miriam Makeba, from South Africa, was famously known as Mama Africa, and her music is associated with music genres such as Afro-pop and jazz.
South African artist, Hugh Masekela, was known as the father of South African jazz. His music is known throughout the world and he has played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Song: Grazing in the Grass
Oliver Mtukudzi hails from Zimbabwe. He is an internationally-recognized cultural icon known for his style of Afro jazz, which is very political in regards to its contents. Song: Neria
Davido is a Nigerian singer. Her music is a mix of Afro-pop and Afro-beat. Some of my favorite jams include “If” and “FIA.” Song: If
Thandiswa Mazwai, from South Africa, is an incredible artist, her music moves between traditional TO Funk, Jazz, house and Afro-soul. Song: Ingoma
South African writer, actor, creator and singer Nakhane’s music embodies queer magic.His music is typically categorized as alternative, Indie and rock. He has worked with the likes of Black Coffee, and he is lead actor in Inxeba (The Wound). Song: Clairvoyant
Langa Mavuso, from South Africa, is an up-and-coming R&B soul artist. He is only 23 and already a force to be reckoned with. Song: Home
South Africa’s Black Coffee is an internationally-recognized house music DJ. He has worked with the likes of Alicia Keys, Drake and has performed at Diddy’s birthday party. Song: We Dance Again
Amanda Black is a South African soul, R&B and Afro-soul singer. Her songs are mainly in her home language isiXhosa, but you can feel her truth ring through each song. Song: Amazulu
Young Cardomon and HAB are Ugandan Hip-hop artists whose sounds blend several influences from South Sudan, India, Altanta and Lahore. One of the songs was featured in the Disney produced movie, Queen of Katwe. Song: #1 Spice
TRESOR, who hails from Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a pop singer and songwriter. According to his website, “his name TRESOR is now synonymous with the new Pop sound molded in Africa.” Song: Zambezi
Lady Zamar is a South African dance music vocalist. Her sound is a bop and could be included under pop and house music. Song: Love is Blind
South African artist Msaki is a singer whose music could be described as Afro-soul, but for me, the best way to describe her art is that of sonic healing tonic. Song: Imfama Ziyabona (2016 Remake)
Bongeziwe Mabandla, from South Africa, is a singer whose music can be catergorised as Afro-folk. He melodic songs are laced with isiXhosa lyrics and traditional music. Song: Ndokulandela
Black Motion is a South African musical collective featuring a DJ and drummer. Their music will have you on the dance floor all night. Song: Imali
Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane is a lawyer, cultural critic and co-creator of the Cheeky Natives Podcast, a digital experience that celebrates Blackness in its fullness.