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Putting Namibia on the World Music Map

Shishani and the Namibian Tales band. From left to right: Sjahin During on percussion, vocalist, guitarist Shishani Vranckx, Debby Korfmacher (Germany) on mbira, kora, voice, and Bence Huszaron cello. (Photo: Eric van Nieuwland)
Putting Namibia on the World Music Map
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A young singer wants people around the world to recognize Namibia as a source for good music.

Shishani is a singer and musician. She was born in Windhoek, the capital of the desert country in southern Africa. But, she spent much of her youth living in Europe.

She arrived in the Netherlands as a five-year-old and found herself surrounded by music, but not much of it was African music.

“Growing up in Europe...there was no access to Namibian music. In 20 years, I only found one CD from Namibia, which was an ethnographic recording of the Bushmen people, the San people… jazz, r&b, funk, hip hop – that was the stuff that was accessible to me, growing up as a child in Europe. There were no African artists on MTV or TMF when I was watching TV…”

Although she did not get to hear music from Africa, Shishani did become a music student. She was interested in the many kinds of sounds she heard in Europe.

That mixture of musical styles plays an important part in her band, called Shishani and the Namibian Tales.

The musicians in her group come from many countries. A German plays the mbira, an instrument from Zimbabwe. A Hungarian plays the cello. And a man from Turkey plays the drums.

Shishani and her musicians are even considering doing some songs with the San, people native to Namibia.

“We’re going to do a collaboration with the San people in the Kalahari, with the idea of collaborating, creating new music and performances and hopefully touring together as well."

Shishani said she thinks it is a good idea to combine modern sounds with those that have long been made by Namibia’s native people. Now she wants to bring this new style of music to people around the world.

Shishani and her band have been traveling through Europe. Shishani and the Namibian Tales also will be playing music later this year in Pakistan.

The group has a new album, Itaala. The musicians will be playing in the Netherlands in 2017.

I’m Dan Friedell.

Bram Posthumus wrote this story for Dan Friedell adapted his report for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

Will you look for music by Shishani? We want to know. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.


Words in This Story

collaboration – n. work done with another person in order to accomplish a task

tour– v. to travel from place to place to perform, give speeches, etc.

album – n. a long musical recording on a record, CD, etc., that usually includes a set of songs

ethnographic – adj. something created through the study of human races and cultures

tale – n. an exciting or dramatic story