5 minutes with musician Simmy

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Simmy

Simmy, real name Simphiwe Majowe Nhlangulela, chats to Kwanele Mathebula about her blossoming career.

Image: Simmy IG

I was born and raised in Tugela Ferry, a rural area in KwaZulu-Natal. I have three siblings of which I am the youngest. I grew up shy and it affected my interaction with people. But on the other hand, I was active; I played with boys in the neighbourhood climbing trees and walls which earned me a few scars. I spent most of my weekends with cousins at my grandmother’s house, which was a 30-minute walk from home.

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My father introduced me to music. My earliest memory is how he’d come home late from work, park next to my bedroom window and loudly play music. He’d play songs by the Soul Brothers and Dolly Parton. Although I knew I could sing, I didn’t consider pursuing music until much later. After matric, I went to the University of KwaZulu-Natal to study Social Sciences. While at university, I met Sun El-Musician through his younger brother who told him that I could sing. After I sang for him, he was impressed and wanted us to work on some music. I declined his offer because I was focused on completing my degree.

In 2016, I moved to Johannesburg to pursue music. I began doing backing vocals for a few artists. During this time, I got to learn more about recording music professionally. I then started to look for a job so that I could provide for myself. I also entered singing competitions such as Idols and South Africa’s Got Talent. Though I didn’t make it far in both competitions, the experience was great. A few months later, I landed a job in recruitment and got back in touch with Sun El Musician at the same time. He invited me to his studio while he was working on his album, Africa to the World. After a few visits, I discovered that I could write music. Initially, I mostly wrote in English, but he encouraged me to write in IsiZulu. Through this process, the songs Ntaba Ezikude and Sonini came about and ended up on his album. By the time he finished his album, I had written a lot of songs. This was when we decided to put an EP together which eventually evolved into my debut album, Tugela Fairy which was released in November 2018.

The production of an album is tough. At the time, the songs on Sun El’s album were gaining popularity and I started to get bookings for performances. I would work during the day, perform at gigs and record my music in the early hours of the morning. There were times when I would get bookings during working hours, my boss understood and allowed me to attend. In June 2018, I quit my job because my album’s release date was fast approaching and my schedule was hectic. Balancing work took a toll on my voice, resulting in poor delivery during the recording sessions. I didn’t have time to fix the keys or add adlibs on some of the songs. Upon its release, I was nervous that my fans would notice, which they fortunately didn’t.

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I have many career highlights. They include the release of my debut album, I also had two huge performances; my first live television performance at the DStv Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards and performing in front of 25 000 people at the Buyelekhaya Festival in East London. I am looking forward to more and amazing highlights, including making more music.