Friday, January 25, 2019

Nakhane's Hymn to Freedom

For “music night” this evening at The Wild Reed I share the video for South African singer-songwriter Nakhane’s new song, “New Brighton.” (You may recall that I spotlighted Nakhane and his “tortured journey to clarity,” around this time last year.)

“New Brighton” is very much a hymn to freedom, an ode to that “strange joy” of being in the world with open eyes, true to one’s self and one’s journey. It’s a theme that has become a hallmark of Nakhane’s music.

Following is how The Huffington Post's Curtis M. Wong describes the latest from Nakhane.

Boundary-smashing pop artist Nakhane draws on his inner struggles coming to terms with his authentic self in a haunting new video.

“New Brighton,” which dropped [last] Friday, sees Nakhane striking a number of dramatic poses in a pale pink suit and striking blue eyeshadow while strolling on a windswept beach and in the corridors of an abandoned mansion. As the song climaxes, he pledges to “never live in fear again.”

Featuring Anohni on backing vocals, “New Brighton” serves as a powerful introduction to Nakhane – already a household name in his native South Africa – for American audiences. The track is a standout on his debut album, You Will Not Die, due out February 22.

With just over a month to go before its stateside release, You Will Not Die is already riding a wave of advance buzz among music critics and fellow artists. The New York Times named Nakhane one of “10 artists to watch in 2019,” and British Vogue felt similarly, describing him as one of pop’s most influential new stars.

. . . If You Will Not Die succeeds in the U.S., Nakhane could have an impact on pop music well beyond critical raves. . . . Last year he starred as a closeted gay man in The Wound [right], a film that depicted a secret rite of passage into manhood observed by South Africa’s Xhosa people that includes circumcision. As a singer-songwriter, he has never shied away from exploring his queer identity through his music and performances, which is still unusual in mainstream pop.

“Some people say: ‘Aren’t you tired of always having to talk about the fact that you’re a gay artist?’ and I’m like, ‘You have no fucking idea how tired I am of it.’ But for as long as I need to, I’m going to talk about it,” he told The Guardian last year. “For as long as it needs to be said, then it needs to be said. For as long as there’s some kid out there who can’t be themselves, he’ll need someone.”

– Curtis M. Wong
Excerpted from “With ‘New Brighton,’
Nakhane Is Poised to Be a Queer Pop Icon for 2019

HuffPost Queer Voices
January 18, 2019

You Will Not Die was first released in South Africa, Europe, and elsewhere last March. I bought it as an import through It’s become one of my favorite albums, with “Interloper” and “Presbyteria” being stand-out tracks for me. Interestingly, it doesn’t contain “New Brighton,” which is an addition to the U.S.-version of the album, one that is being marketed as “the deluxe version.”

Also, You Will Not Die is Nakhane’s debut album only in certain parts of the world, including the U.S. As I note in my previous post on the singer, 2014’s Brave Confusion is Nakhane's first album, one that was released in South Africa under his full name, Nakhane Touré. The album, noted music critic Graham Gremore, couldn’t be more appropriately titled. “Here is a black Christian male singing love songs about other men in an environment that hasn’t exactly been welcoming towards gay people, wrote Gremore in Queerty. Upon its release in 2014, Brave Confusion caused such a stir that it ensured Nakhane made the cover of the South African Rolling Stone.

Anyway, without further ado, here's Nakhane's latest offering, “New Brighton.” Enjoy!

I slipped on the pebbles on the way to the gate
Held my balance on the cuff of your shirt
You were upset
We were going to the Port Elizabeth port
Up from the hill on due point was fragile to fault
I was upset:

Never live in fear again
No, never again
And all the seraphim
And all the cherubim

Never knew them before, don’t know them now
What about my mother and her sisters?
Where was their name
I rose up, sing:

Never live in fear again
No, never again
Never, never, never again
Never, never again
Never live in fear again
No never again
And all the seraphim
And all the cherubim

Open the blank New Brighton sky
Worlds suffering
Birds with strangled cries
And a strange joy in their head
So go with open eyes

Related Off-site Links:
For Openly Gay Actor-Singer Nakhane, Defiance Is Key to Survival – Serena Chaudhry (Reuters via The Huffington Post, April 30, 2018).
Nakhane Touré Fends Off Hate Speech Over Controversial New Film – Carl Collison (Mail and Guardian, March 1, 2017).
South Africa Musician Nakhane Touré Tackles Gay ThemesBBC News, (April 4, 2016).
Nakhane Touré: Dreaming the Black Man’s Blues – Kwanele Sosibo (Mail and Guardian, September 4, 2015).
Nakhane Touré: Working Bravely with WordsBetween Ten and Five (June 23, 2015).
What’s Eating Nakhane Touré? – Charl Blignaut (City Press, April 28 2014).
Bravely, Confusingly, Nakhane Touré – Lloyd Gedye (The Con, September 25, 2013).
Nakhane’s Brave ConfusionExpresso (November 1, 2013).

Previously featured musicians at The Wild Reed:
Dusty Springfield | David Bowie | Kate Bush | Maxwell | Buffy Sainte-Marie | Prince | Frank Ocean | Maria Callas | Loreena McKennitt | Rosanne Cash | Petula Clark | Wendy Matthews | Darren Hayes | Jenny Morris | Gil Scott-Heron | Shirley Bassey | Rufus Wainwright | Kiki Dee | Suede | Marianne Faithfull | Dionne Warwick | Seal | Sam Sparro | Wanda Jackson | Engelbert Humperdinck | Pink Floyd | Carl Anderson | The Church | Enrique Iglesias | Yvonne Elliman | Lenny Kravitz | Helen Reddy | Stephen Gately | Judith Durham | Nat King Cole | Emmylou Harris | Bobbie Gentry | Russell Elliot | BØRNS | Hozier | Enigma | Moby (featuring the Banks Brothers) | Cat Stevens | Chrissy Amphlett | Jon Stevens | Nada Surf | Tom Goss (featuring Matt Alber) | Autoheart | Scissor Sisters | Mavis Staples | Claude Chalhoub | Cass Elliot | Duffy | The Cruel Sea | Wall of Voodoo | Loretta Lynn and Jack White | Foo Fighters | 1927 | Kate Ceberano | Tee Set | Joan Baez | Wet, Wet, Wet | Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy | Fleetwood Mac | Jane Clifton | Australian Crawl | Pet Shop Boys | Marty Rhone | Josef Salvat | Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri | Aquilo | The Breeders | Tony Enos | Tupac Shakur | Nakhane Touré | Al Green | Donald Glover/Childish Gambino | Josh Garrels | Stromae | Damiyr Shuford

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