Mystical, potent, and utterly captivating, singer-songwriter Luanga Choba is back after a nine-year sabbatical with a powerful new EP about reclaiming one’s feminine energy and casting off the ‘yoke’ or burden of womanhood. The launch of the EP takes place on 30 September 2023 at the Umlilo Flame & Grill Restaurant in Rustenburg. Don’t miss this enchanting evening of music and empowerment. Additionally, on the same day of the live launch, the EP will be available online on all streaming platforms.
Releasing in spring 2023, the five-track EP Gonzo & Other Stories refers to both the track O Ntshapa Gonzo (You Drive Me Crazy) and her earthy “gonzo soul” musical style.
“Gonzo” is a reference to “gonzo journalism”, a term coined in the 1970s to refer to Hunter S Thompson’s unconventional – and highly personal and internalised – style of writing. Similarly experimental in her approach, Luanga’s music melds ancient rhythms with a cappella sounds and haunting vocals, and transfixes the listener with its raw and earnest authenticity.
This deep-thinking “conveyer of song” whose music draws deeply on African spirituality is also a medical doctor – and an important part of her identity as a healer is facilitating a monthly meditation circle for women in North West, where she is based.
Unapologetically indigenous and drawing strongly on her roots, Gonzo & Other Stories is the culmination of a seven-year writing process whereby different rhythms and sensibilities were woven together into a cohesive whole, complete with “stamping my feet in my red high heels, mouth clicks and hand claps” as percussive elements, explains Luanga.
Significantly, the process of creation taught her how to ululate – or “sungulate”, as she puts it. While ululation is a hallmark of weddings, funerals and other occasions to signify extremes of joy and grief, it had never been in her vocal arsenal until she taught herself to master it. She would steal away to the sanctuary of the mountains to practise and refine her ululation technique, away from the noise of city life – “and it has awakened my feminine energy”.
It’s a deep well that she has been exploring ever since breaking onto the music scene in 2013 with her debut offering as singer-songwriter, Luanga Who? Having always found singing to be “the most authentic expression of who I am”, this Shell Road to Fame runner-up made a detour into the world of medicine and practised as a doctor locally and in the United Kingdom before returning to where her heart lay – the world of music.
It’s been 10 years since that release, but during that time Luanga turned to introspection to draw inspiration for her new material – and perfect it. A paralysed vocal cord contributes texture and nuance to her distinctive vocals; it’s also a physical symbol of her existential quest to find her voice.
“I was asking myself deep questions. It wasn’t really about music – I was trying to find my most optimal voice, not just my singing voice but my voice as a person,” says Luanga.
“The track Joko [the first single, about the yoke of womanhood] is a teacher, and to find the voice for that I had to go to deep, dark places, back to my childhood. I had to excavate my singing voice, and use that brokenness as part of my hidden journey.
“Gonzo & Other Stories is really about rediscovering and reclaiming what was already there: my voice. It’s about healing. It’s about standing up and speaking up, and finding the treasure in one’s wounding.”
Anthony Koopman of Puretone Productions, who has an intuitive feel for how to bring out the best in her sound, returns to co-produce the new EP, which Luanga is self-releasing under her independent label, Xhimvani Records & Publishing.
“I am embodying womanly power in my music. It feels powerful. To be honest, the songwriter in me is a wild woman … I try to tame her and bring her into this world, but not too much. And I have the confidence to let her out when on stage,” she says.
Although her new EP Gonzo & Other Stories is sung in her mother tongue, Setswana (a language that is under-represented in mainstream music), Luanga believes it transcends the realm of “traditional” music to have universal appeal. “I hope it moves other people the way it moves me,” she says. “I hope it opens ears and lands on open minds.”
Tickets to book your up close and personal seat for the dinner and live performance costs R350 and can be booked through www.webtickets.co.za or at the Pick n Pay ticket Kiosks and the venue is the Umlilo Flame & Grill Restaurant in Rustenburg
- Stream Gonzo & Other Stories on Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms
Critical praise for Luanga Choba – “Hot rhythms buried in ancient history … Cave sounds that speak to the future.” – writer and journalist Bongani Madondo
For further information and media inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or (011) 788 7632
Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Luanga Choba – www.luangachoba.co.za
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