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Ayanda Jiya. Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

South African Women Dropped the Best Debuts of 2019

We highlight 10 noteworthy albums & EPs from a new generation of vocal talent in South Africa, featuring Elaine, Ayanda Jiya, Ami Faku and more.

The South African music scene has seen an uptick in youthful, vocally gifted artists over the years. Much of this is owed to the recent global resurgence of R&B, as well as the increased significance of streaming sites, especially SoundCloud.

From internet-savvy artists creating jazz, alternative soul and house-infused spoken word to radio friendly iterations of pop and Afro-soul, 2019 has been the year of impactful debut performances.

This year ushered in the voices of a new generation of South African female artists announcing themselves to the world.

Here's a lowdown of 10 great releases from talented female vocalists, songwriters and composers marking this new era.

Read ahead below. This list is in no particular order.

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'KIWANUKA' Album Cover

Michael Kiwanuka Drops Highly-Anticipated New Album 'KIWANUKA'

The artist reclaims his heritage and self-identity on a nostalgic new album.

British-Ugandan soul singer Michael Kiwanuka has released his highly-anticipated third studio album KIWANUKA, the follow up to his critically-acclaimed sophomore album Love & Hate.

The 14-track album features the previously released singles "You Ain't the Problem" and "Hero," and was largely produced by Dead Mouse and Inflo. The artist named the album KIWANUKA in a bold attempt to reclaim his heritage no matter how foreign it might seem to others. "I won't change my name, no matter what they call me," he sings on "Hero."

Speaking on the album's title, he told New Statesman: I thought, what better way to say that you're comfortable with who you are than by using just your name? KIWANUKA goes against fame, it goes against success. It's not in the pocket, it's not a smooth rock'n'roll name that's up in lights. It can be clumsy, if you haven't seen it before."

The deeply funk, soul and psychedelic rock-inspired album, sees the artist tapping into both the personal and political as he deals openly with self-doubt and what it means to overcome it, and addresses present-day social ills like police brutality and immigration.

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