Afro Pop

Amanda Black: “I truly didn’t know if I could keep fighting to be treated with respect and fairness”

When it came to giving her second album a title, Amanda didn’t hesitate. In 2018 she’d written a song that captured her decision to reclaim her own power – as a performer, as a songwriter, as an artist, and as a member of South Africa’s creative economy – titled Power. Amanda instinctively knew this was the song that would provide the perfect umbrella for the album’s lyrical themes; that this piece of music would most potently convey the underpinning message of her new work.

“When I sang the words to Power, when I gave voice to the fact of having power inside my veins, I said to anyone who would listen ‘I don’t care when it’s released but this is the title of my next album’. ”

Truthfully, at the moment “Power” emerged, Black didn’t know if she’d ever release a follow-up to her massively successful debut, Amazulu.  Surfacing in 2016, that album was certified platinum a scant three weeks after its release and went on to earn Black numerous nominations and awards – including three South Africa Music Awards, two Metro Awards and a BET International Artist Of The Year nomination. 

But, in the background, Black was discovering that the road to becoming a fulltime artist wasn’t easy – even one marked by commercial and critical success straight out of the gate. Black never expected she’d have to expend so much energy standing up for her artistic rights after she’d become one of South Africa’s most popular and awarded artists. There was even a moment when she thought, “what am I doing this for?”.  “The music industry is not what it looks like from the outside.” 

Becoming a singer is not what you imagine. It’s a lot harder and a lot deeper. At that time, I asked myself, ‘do you even still love music’. I truly didn’t know if I could continue to keep fighting to be treated with respect and fairness. There was a part of me that thought maybe music should just be a hobby – that I should just return to that happy place where I play my music and sing, for myself, my family and my community and it feels good.”

After spending some time at home, Amanda returned to Johannesburg with a renewed sense of her creative being propelling her. There she embarked on process of making POWER and establishing her new label Afro Rockstar, in partnership with Sony Music.

Power is a mix of autobiographical songs – a highlight being her light-hearted second single Egoli – and others, like first single Thandwa Ndim, that see Amanda giving impactful voice to the experiences of women in the current socio-political moment.  The album features several love songs including “Lemme Go” and “Love Again”, and the stunning “Hamba”, a song about being thirsty for life, love, hope and happiness that features a chorus sampled from Margaret Singana’s “Hamba Bhekile” off “Shaka Zulu”.

In the end, it is an album of inspiration, of motivation and of integrity.

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