Tribute Birdie Mboweni: Artistry as an Instrument of Societal-Cultural Elevation

She carries the mic as a spear that pierces through trivial non-committed discourse material. Her music is laced with lyrical content armed with cultural value notions associated with aspects of our nature that supports our humanity. Tribute Birdie Mboweni is an on and off the stage performer. As an advocate for environmental conservation through the projects she partakes in that educate the community on their role in conserving nature she performs an act deserving of the praise of the stars; she has her complement on stage that uses the voice as an instrument that not merely entertains but paints vivid pictures of her spirit that is possessed by notions of her African humanity. As a social being that is conscious of its environs, her music is, as hinted in parts of her response in the texts below, were heavily influenced by the experiences she encountered in her upbringing in the green (blessed with an abundance of a variety of vegetation and the animals in search of it) and warm (rich with humanity) Mkhuhlu (in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga) in the eastern part of southern African.

 

Commenting on the conditions that have shaped her musical abilities to express that which she expresses in her music and in the manner that she does, she had the following to say, “My upbringing has had a great influence on my musical abilities. I grew up in church, where I sang from a very early age, from Sunday School, to the Youth Choir, then to a few musical groups in and outside church. My personal experiences around these and other spaces also have had, and continue to have a hand in how I express myself, and in what I write and sing about.”

 

On how she balances her music with her other interests, and how the other interests contribute to her musicality and the content of the music she produces she said, “Balancing my music with my other interests, mainly lecturing and other environmental activities, is mostly made easier by the fact that they all fuel each other. Some of the music that I write is drawn from my experiences in and with nature. However, because there is a lot of time spent doing all these things, I am constantly learning how to effectively manage my time. It’s a never-ending learning experience.” True genius in the African sense is the ability to do or perform various acts well and the belief that the mind is fertile ground that we constantly have to tend to – It is thus safe to proclaim Birdie as a truly gifted daughter of the soil with many hats that she is able to wear with the more than requisite level of aptitude.

 

“My music is Afro Soul with a touch of some traditional and contemporary sounds. There’s a few things that I seek to do with my music. I aim to write and sing about the world through my experiences and observations, and to preserve what I can of parts of my culture, while communicating the need to unite and love each other as Africans,” is what she described her music as and what it presents or represent.

She continued in stating, “I am Shangaan, and so I write some of my songs in my home language, and I sing about things that aim to preserve some of my childhood memories, especially in songs like Mpfula Ya Na and N’warikapanyana – An Ode to A Bird, for example. With that said, I am forever growing and evolving as an artist, so a lot of these things may evolve over time”.

 

When quizzed on what she wished would be her impact on society, she stated, “I hope to leave a legacy of self-love and unity amongst Africans from all parts of the world.”

 

On how she would describe her creative moment during the process of conceiving a song, she stated, “Music comes to me in different ways. The ‘process’ is never the same for all my songs, but most times, words come first before melodies. This has to do with the fact that I wrote poetry first, before I believed I could write music. And sometimes, for example, when I wrote Mpfula Ya Na, it all happened at once, guided of course by a childhood song we used to sing in celebration of the rain.”

 

“Performing my music live is the climax of this whole journey. For me, it’s not performing and getting a positive response that makes it worthwhile. The best thing about this experience is getting the opportunity to stand there and share my heart and soul, and that is something I will forever be grateful for,” stated Birdie on performing her body of work for people.

 

INDLOVUKAZI has hinted that her music is the opportunity to free her soul and an opportunity at personal growth. It is that which nurtures the soul through expressing what it graves to experience collectively with the rest of humanity. It is that which nourishes the many ears that have been blessed with the opportunity to catch the ‘birdie’ melodies from the rich droppings of her voice.

Her disposition towards African societal cultural writing is profound given the music scene with a lot of pointless, un-progressive bleep.

By Themba Ka Mhlanga

 

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