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Still taken from YouTube video.

South Africans are Rooting for the Ndlovu Youth Choir to Win America's Got Talent

The countdown to announcing the winner of the show has officially begun.

Last night, South Africa's Ndlovu Youth Choir gave yet another phenomenal and goosebump-inducing performance at the Dolby Theater for America's Got Talent (AGT). The group, which hails from Limpopo province, performed their own rendition of Toto's 1982 hit song "Africa" and received a standing ovation from all four judges during the last night of the season finale. Voting is currently underway and the winner of AGT will be announced early tomorrow morning.


After their first audition which saw them performing Vicky Sampson's 1995 hit "African Dream", the Ndlovu Youth Choir has consistently given one stellar performance after the other. Under the leadership of their choirmaster, Ralf Schmitt, the group of young singers has wowed the American audience with their insane talent and heartfelt message of being proud ambassadors for a united Africa. Following their moving finale performance, the choir tweeted, "Tonight we were proud young ambassadors of a united Africa. Africa has the world's youngest population, and our hope is that our performance reflected the talent, opportunity and potential of millions of young people. One nation, one continent."

Amid the unrest South Africa has been experiencing in the past week with xenophobic violence towards African nationals and gender-based violence affecting women, the choir's success and hopeful message have provided a glimmer of hope for a country currently going through some dark days.

Whether or not the Ndlovu Youth Choir emerges as the winner of this year's AGT, South Africans are nonetheless tremendously proud of their world-class performances and spirited attitude. We're certainly holding thumbs for them.

Watch their performance of "Africa" below:

Ndlovu Youth Choir Puts South African Spin On "Africa" by Toto - America's Got Talent 2019www.youtube.com

Music
(Youtube)

Watch Burna Boy's Down-to-Earth Video For "Common Person"

The Nigerian superstar shares a memorable video for "Common Person," a creative visual presentation of Nigerian humanity amid the ebbs and flows of day-to-day life.


In Burna Boy's heart-warming music video for "Common Person," he shares a more vulnerable, likable version of himself that is often overshadowed by the limelight. The music video for the track off his critically acclaimed album, Love, Damini, showcases the global artist in an extremely down-to-earth and heart-warming manner.

Burna's new video further pushes the message of the song "Common Person": that one person is not better than the next, and despite his superstardom, he is a common person who has never forgotten his roots. In the music video, Burna can be seen interacting with residents of a working-class neighborhood, and partaking in every-day things that happen in several Nigerian working-class neighborhoods, including cooking and carrying buckets of water into the home. In several shots, the superstar is captured helping residents with car trouble kickstart their vehicle.

Ever since the release of Love, Damini, Burna Boy has continued to garner more success and international acclaim. Recently, he was nominated for Best Global Music Performance for the Gold RIAA certified hit, “Last, Last” and “Best Global Music Album” for his sixth studio album, Love, Damini at the upcoming 65th Annual Grammy Awards. Love, Damini, was also selected as a The New York Times’ Critics Pick , and described by OkayAfrica as "a story of victory, love, loss, pain and strength over a number of colorful musical influences." The music video for "Common Person" is a continuation of that story. Watch the video below.

Watch Burna Boy's music video for "Common Person"

Music
Image via Sheila Afari PR/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

The Best South African Songs Out Right Now

Featuring Bongeziwe Mabandla, Sjava, Tyla, Blxckie, Msaki, AKA x Khuli Chana, and more

Here are the South African songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

For more music lists, check out our Songs You Need to Hear This Week roundups and our regional monthly lists for Nigeria, Ghana, and East Africa.

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Spotlight
Image courtesy of Umaimah

Spotlight: Animator Umaimah Is Here To Romanticize Your Life

We spoke with the Nigerian digital visual artist about inspiration being everywhere, and in every thing.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists, and more who are producing vibrant, original work.

In our latest piece, we spotlight Nigerian digital visual artist and designer Umaimah. The animator spent her childhood enveloped in the colorful, effervescent world of female-centered fantasy shows, and now uses her craft to recapture the very essence. With a strong emphasis on her identity as a Black African woman and the romanticization of the mundane, Umaimah has manifested the dreams of her younger self as she weaves little Black girls into her narrative animations. The artist's fascination with blending African fashion with ballerina attire has created a beautiful example of the 'Black girl joy' that many young African girls could only dream of. Staying true to her visions has boded well, as Umaimah's career has taken her to animation studios for Disney, Cartoon Network, Warner Brothers, Nickelodeon, and more.

We spoke with Umaimah about making your art understood without dialogue and the power that comes in "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses".

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Can you tell us about the project that first inspired you to create?

There wasn't a particular project that inspired me to start creating, but rather a specific type of animated content I grew up watching that featured fantastic female characters. Stuff like Totally Spies, Winx, and Barbie movies heavily pushed me towards animation. Their influence is clear in my art, with how I use colors and draw my characters.

What are the central themes in your work?

When I look at my work as a singular piece, two things that stick out to me are the importance of identity and the romanticization of everyday life.

Usually, when people hear romance, they think of romantic relationships, but I'm talking about romance as an idealistic way of living. It's about the beauty in everyday things like getting coffee, taking a bath, or wearing your favorite outfit. These moments can be romantic to me; I show that in my work with my use of colors, lighting, or with the expression and pose of my subject. A quote similar to this theme is, "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." Identity has also been a central theme in my art, where I specifically want my subjects to be Black African girls. Our families didn't raise many of us to see that we can live our lives in a 'romantic' way; instead, there is a constant emphasis on being tough and struggling. While that's OK for some, I want more African girls to know it's not our only option and we can live life like a movie's main character.

Where do you seek inspiration, and how does it find you?

One thing about being an artist is finding inspiration all around you, even when you're not looking for it. I've found inspiration in burnout or during a creative block. Everything around me has inspired me, like nature (especially flowers), my culture, books I've read, the music I love, and the relationships in my life. Recently, I've been inspired by both African and ballerina fashion. The juxtaposition of tulles and soft hues in ballet and the intricate geometric designs from Africa create visually exciting pieces and compositions in my art.

What do you believe sets African artists apart from the rest of the world?

A lot separates us from other artists; apart from being the only ones who can authentically capture the African experience in our work, we also carry the responsibility of presenting Africa to the world. As more African countries develop, more Africans can see art as a realistic career, which means that we get to have the chance to control our narratives more than we could in the past. With some of us coming from communities that hardly encourage artistic skills, we have no option but to mentor and teach ourselves everything about art, design, and creative thinking. I think that's pretty remarkable and resilient.

Can you talk about your use of colors and accessories?

Colors and accessories play a huge role in my work. They both serve as storytelling tools. As an artist and designer in animation, people should be able to interpret the story of any piece you create by just looking at it. "Story is king," as many animation professionals say. Color plays a role here because specific colors portray certain moods, which tells you half the story. It's why I prioritize it in my work. I need my art to be understood even without dialogue. Props and accessories do the same thing, but specifically for the characters in my art, I make it so anyone can quickly tell their personalities from their accessories.

What's something you wish someone told you at the beginning of your journey?

There's so much I wish I had known when I started chasing art and design as a career. I'll share two to start:

I wish I knew that it was okay not to be perfect while starting out and that it's okay to ask for help from your peers. I also wish I had been more patient with my artistic growth. I used to beat myself up for not being as good as people who had been in the animation field for five years. I still catch myself slipping down that path, and now can consciously talk myself out of it. I was rushing to find my style and voice because I felt I needed to do that to be as good as other artists who had established careers and seemed to have it together. Now, being friends with some of those artists, I've learned they've had their hard times too. Comparing myself at that point didn't benefit me or my work, but it slowed me down.

Image courtesy of the artist

Artwork by Umaimah

News Brief
(Youtube)

Asake Kicks Off His Year With New Single 'Yoga'

The Nigerian superstar shares his first single of 2023.


Ahmed Ololade Asake, popularly known as Asake, drops a new single for 2023 called "Yoga." The "Mr. Money" crooner shared the single along with a vibrant music video which depicts a deep, spirited, message that is expertly interwoven into the the song, and is primarily sung in the Yoruba language. According to Asake, the song is about peace and zen.

“The song is about minding my business and guarding my peace so no one can disrupt it,” says Asake. The Nigerian artist, who has consistently been releasing hits ever since he became a mainstream sensation, took to social media in the early hours of January 30th, 2023, shared a snippet of the new record with his followers.

The music video, which was directed by celebrated cinematographer TG Omori, boasts of colorful imagery and was shot in Dakar, Senegal. Last year was a highly-successful year for the YBNL signee, with us claiming that 2022 Was the Year of Asake, and stating that the singer's "clear-cut domination of the year was without a doubt."

According to that previous OkayAfrica essay, the Nigerian megastar has historically drawn inspiration from street-hop sonic influencers like DaGrin, Lord Of Ajasa, and Olamide, who poured the hardships in their lives into their music. In "Yoga," Asake uses his signature sonic blend of Fuji music, merged with spiritual affirmations.

Following his debut album Mr. Money With The Vibe, Asake set the tone for a streak of musical success that has been celebrated by Okay Africa's curated music lists, including Best Nigerian Songs of 2022 and Best Afrobeats Songs of 2022.

Watch the scintillating music video for "Yoga" below.

Listen to Asake "Yoga" below

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Renowned dancehall artist Popcaan has released his album Great Is He, via OVO Sound, and it features none other than Burna Boy.

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