The Story of A Young Lady Who Takes Namibian Music To The World

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“Making music is one thing. Earning a living with your music is another. It takes a lot of time and energy and you often end up losing money instead of earning it.” Those are the words of a Namibian musician who has taken the world by storm with a sultry voice that has made her known throughout Europe. This publication recently had a one on one interview with Namibia’s international music standard bearer – Shishani.

Born in Windhoek 25 years ago to a Belgian father and a native Namibian, Oshiwambo-speaking mother, the songstress moved to the Netherlands at the tender age of five, and there the bright European lights inspired her to dream big.

When I was five, I moved to the Netherlands, where I did most of my growing up. I’ve been returning to Namibia for longer periods during the past few years, getting my feet on the ground again in my motherland. I’ve been performing as a vocalist with different groups since I was seventeen. On my return to Windhoek in 2011, I learned to play the guitar and started my solo career. After performing at the 2011 NAMA Awards my career took flight,” she says.

Inspired by a father who is a music fanatic and a brother who is a jazz pianist, Shishani found her calling in music and took it upon herself to develop her raw talent into an art.

I had musical training since the age of four, starting with violin, then drums and then vocal training.  At the age of seventeen I started writing my own songs, and I had never been so captivated by anything else in my life. Music has been the best way of expressing myself; it just felt like a path I had to walk,” she smiles.

The internationally acclaimed Shishani faced several challenges in her journey to stardom, and no phase of her career has been a walk in the park.

Musicians all over the world, no matter how talented, are challenged when it comes to earning a stable income. To me, music is about passion. It’s about people, it’s about sharing. You learn so much about yourself and others through music. Being a young female artist, I’ve had to learn how to stand my ground in an often older, male industry. However, I have always been supported and I’m thankful for all the people who have been there for me,” she testifies.

But all her efforts have paved way for countless opportunities that have seen her staging live performances in various European nations. Some of the countries that she has toured include Belgium, France, Ireland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Poland, Morocco and Malawi.

With making music occupying half of her time, the other half is dedicated to a totally different purpose. The sensationally talented diva is currently furthering her studies and pursuing a Master’s degree in Cultural Musicology. 

Her last performance in Namibia was at the NICE Restaurant in Windhoek in November of last year, after she had performed at the Windhoek Jazz Festival. Her music received an amazing reception and was a mind-blowing experience.

Some of the accolades that Shishani has won include the Best Vocals category in the ‘Streetlife Talent Show’ in Den Haag (The Netherlands) in 2010. In Namibia she won the Last Band Standing Competition in May of last year.

Coupled with that, Shishani has collaborated with Namibia-based solo artist Erna Chimu for the hit single I Praise your Name, which is set to be released in her upcoming album.

It is also interesting to note that the two-album songstress is an independent artist and has not signed an exclusive deal with a label.

As a musician who has travelled the world over, what does she think needs to be done to improve the quality of Namibian music?

“I think there is enough talent in Namibia. The only thing that needs to be worked on seriously is professionalism. That is where I think we are not on point. I think work ethic is the most important thing to improve this matter. Respect time. I don’t believe in “African Time”, that’s all in the mind. If we want to compete globally, we must become more professional,” she advises.

The single, lady who does not have any children, barely has time to relax. “A pastime would be a luxury for me. I’m doing my Masters degree and trying to push my music, so I rarely have free time. If so, I’m probably finding myself in a room, chilled, writing songs. I feel I’ve just begun my career! I don’t think I’ll ever stop making music. Success is not a goal, it’s a feeling. Especially in music. And I feel blessed to be doing what I love. Rehearsals and getting together with my band is really the highlight of my week,” she divulges.

Shishani currently has concerts coming up in Amsterdam, France, Poland and Luxembourg. With Africans scattered all around Europe, surely she is making home a little bit closer for diasporans through music.

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