“Mthwakazi’s music serves as a harbinger signaling the birth of something new, refreshing and healing… every time Mthwakazi plays her music, Princess Magogo Ngangezinye kaDinizulu, our patron saint of traditional music, listens with delight from the other side of the timeline.”
- Tsepang Tutu Molefe, Sunday Times
Mthwakazi is known for her completely unique "Xhopera" performances, which combine classical operatic vocals exclusively in isiXhosa with ancestral sounds from indigenous stringed bows and percussion instruments. Contemporary instrumentation (guitar/piano/drums/bass) can add yet another layer, and the band play with a formation that ranges from a duo through to a full orchestra, or “Xhochestra”, depending on the occasion.
The band is centred around vocalist Mthwakazi, who has performed in SA and Europe as a Mezzo Soprano, Coloratura, Dramatic Soprano and Lyric Soprano with top ensembles including Isango-Portobello, the Olivier Award-winning Opera Company. She has a deep passion for indigenous African, traditional choral and church music, as well promoting isiXhosa and other African languages and cultural identity.
Mthwakazi plays a variety of bow instruments such as uHadi, uMrhubhe & uMakhweyane, many of which she makes by hand. She also offers workshops in the making and playing of these ancient instruments.
The music shifts back and forth through time, gathering elements of traditional African music, jazz and a range of contemporary genres, whilst their electrifying performances, with extravagant headdresses, painted face designs and designed costumes, evoke images akin to visions. The lyrics carry a message which emphasizes spirituality, humanity, humility, peace, optimism, unity, co-existence and progress as a way of living.
As a duo, trio or full band, they perform their unique musical blend regularly across South Africa to deeply appreciative and awed audiences, and have collaborated on stage and recordings with artists such as Hugh Masekela, Simphiwe Dana, Sibongile Khumalo and the Mahotella Queens.