Delazy’s JEHP crusade at Lake Of The Stars

Performance in Pretoria. Photo- Toya Delazy’s management

South African-born singer/songwriter Toya Delazy has a wide-ranging repertoire as a performer. Not only does she sing, she’s also a dancer and an accomplished piano player. The 2013 BET Awards-nominee is set to burn up the Lake Of The Stars stage this year with her unique hybrid sound – a synthesis of jazz, electro, and hip hop influences.

A descendant of the legendary composer Princess Magogo Ka Dinizulu, Delazy sat down with TIA correspondent, Kagiso Mnisi, to talk about her roots, musical opportunities on the continent, and the boundless possibilities of the digital age.

TIA: Intra-continental travel has become common place for most African artists, both as a means of solidarity and exchanging ideas. What are your views on artists travelling the continent more?

Toya Delazy: Traveling is great and I would urge other African artists to do it more. it’s easy to get comfortable and do the same thing year after year, but it becomes redundant. Give yourself a challenge and go to a different space. It keeps me inspired and keeps the cross cultural global exchange going. It opens one eyes as to where life could go or should be; when I return home I just want to share everything I learnt and improve things.

 Performance at Moretele Park, Golden Hour. Photo:Toya Delazy's management

As one of the headline acts at this year’s Lake Of The Stars festival, what are you hoping to give to the audience?

I would love to show the dynamics of a live show through dance and my skills as a pianist in this genre I call JEHP, the acronym for the mix of jazz, electro and hip hop. It’s all about the power of music and lyrics and seeing these lyrics play out through dance, the empowerment that can be felt while still having a great time.


 Toya's artwork for her latest album Ascension. Photo: Toya Delazy's management

You are a branch emerging from the great Buthelezi-Zulu dynasty, how do you stay true to your roots as a modern female artist?

I’m a global child now. I was actually looking back at when I was younger, the traditional typical Zulu girl I used to be. Now when I look at myself, the growth and the confidence, it seems like two different people. It inspires me to share this with my culture and marry the two worlds together. I will always respect my roots, it’s something I can never leave behind. I still carry the same urge my great grandmother Princess Magogo Ka Dinizulu had, to challenge certain traditions in our traditional society in the hope of uplifting the nation, and music is my outlet for this.

Being the great granddaughter of Princess Magogo, who was a great composer and visionary as you mentioned, how do you see yourself carrying on the tradition of storytelling?

Through the lyrics of my music, this is how I share my journey, enlighten and empower, or just simply entertain. The difference is I sing in both IsiZulu and English, meaning I can communicate with more people – after all it’s about traveling the world and exchanging stories.

You released your second album Ascension for free online after being frustrated at the lack of stock in music shops. How has the digital space influenced your career?

Everyone can access my music no matter where they are in the world. This fact alone separates me from artists that can only be found in specific outlets in a few countries. The power has definitely shifted from physical retail to digital in unfathomable ways. The most accessible platform to stream music is Soundcloud, and my record removed my music from it. So it’s still a long walk ahead and I hope we will hit coast soon when it comes to this.

Which other artists on the continent would you like collaborate with?

I would love to collaborate with DJ Spoko and create a next level futuristic sound.

Source: This Is Africa