More than anything, I miss the people: Nakhane comes home for I AM LIVE festival

Nakhane is an award-winning, multi-talented musician, actor, writer and one of the most culturally significant artists to have developed from Africa in recent years.

The London-based South African award-winning artist Nakhane. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The London-based South African award-winning artist Nakhane (pronouns: They/Them) is coming home to perform at the I AM LIVE festival next month.

“More than anything, I miss the people; their warmth, how we are not afraid to laugh and sing and dance in public. A close second would be the food. South African food is so tasty!” Nakhane told Eyewitness News in the lead-up to the event.

The Bassline festival, I AM LIVE is back after a forced hiatus of over two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, for one show only on 21 May at Constitution Hill, Nakhane will perform on home soil.

- Book tickets on Howler

"The last time I was home was just before the pandemic, so it’s been a while. I miss South Africa's energy. That I’ll be playing a show as well, is an even better gift. Thanks to Concerts SA and their partners, the Norwegian Embassy, and SAMRO for their support in bringing me home for this special moment.”

Nakhane is difficult to sum up in a sentence but we'll try; they are an award-winning, multi-talented musician, actor, writer and one of the most culturally significant artists to develop from Africa in recent years.

"Nakhane is truly one of the most extraordinary talents we have ever worked with, and that says a lot, us having been involved in the live music industry for 28 years," said Paige Holmes of Bassline Live.

The Inxeba (The Wound) star has been championed by Madonna, Elton John and Black Coffee.

“I’m transitioning to the next phase; that of my next album, so they will be experiencing an evolution of where I was as a performer and where I want to be. Lots of rhythm, love of sound, and mindfulness of being in the moment.” said Nakhane on what the audience can expect at I AM LIVE.

Their album You Will Not Die excavates their religious upbringing, their need to renounce Christianity after feeling that it was incompatible with their Queerness, and periods of depression and anxiety – but there’s also love, joy, and self-acceptance, not least on the title track, in which Nakhane realises that despite the traumatic events they've been through, they would survive.

“I’ve always said that art made me realise that I was not alone in the world. That’s the foundation of it, it can show people their worth as human beings, allow them their idiosyncrasies. Can art combat societal ills? I don’t think so, but it can create possibilities in people’s minds, and that can change how people see the world."

Nakhane‘s achievements are not confined to music and literature. In 2017 they starred in The Wound, a film about homosexuality in the Xhosa community that has been shortlisted for the best foreign-language film at the Oscars.

READ: SA film 'Inxeba' on shortlist of finalists for Oscar

Brad Holmes of Bassline Live says he’s excited at the diverse crowd of quality music lovers that is sure to attend the Constitution Hill concert.

"Nakhane is culturally relevant, appealing to various subcultures, trendsetters, the LGBTQI+ community, fashion lovers, diversity and inclusion champions, and art lovers. We are grateful to our associate partners Castle Lite and BET Africa for making this concert possible."

The multi-disciplinary artist describes themselves as a curious explorer, a person who loves to sleep, sing, play with their dog. And tells Eyewitness News that they don't want to be boxed into a specific music genre.

“I personally try not to. I believe that would be limiting. And I’m greedy. I always want to learn new things.”

Nakhane is busy with a new album that will be released later this year.

“With each album, I write the songs for the album in a different way than before. I found that that helps me not repeat myself. It’s like learning to go about life without using your dominant hand. You’ll do things differently, you’ll feel them differently too because the experience will be new.”

Nakhane will be performing on home soil on 21 May at Constitution Hill with tickets available at Howler.