Mozambique’s Isabel Novella wins bronze in global songwriting contest

Mozambican singer Isabel Novella has won the third-place award in the World Music category at the prestigious International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for her song ‘Ntsumi’.

Mozambican artist Isabel Novella has scooped a major international songwriting award. Photo: Facebook
Mozambican artist Isabel Novella has scooped a major international songwriting award. Photo: Facebook

‘Ntsumi’ (angel) is the singer’s latest single and was launched in December 2015. The song depicts the persecution and discrimination experienced by people with albinism throughout Africa, where albinos are hunted for their body parts, which are sold on the black market for use in potions wrongly believed to bring wealth and good luck. Other African musicians to address the issue in recent years include Malian star Salif Keita and Tanzanian rapper Nonini.

The song’s powerful lyrics see Novella sing from the point of view of an albino victim speaking to his killer. Translated into English, the lyrics include: “You hunted me as if I was an animal, and I ran miles for my life. Yet you found me and tied me with ropes And now I am dead…. Don’t take my last breath away. Money is just a thing and it can’t buy the precious gift of life. I wish to have some inner peace, because I fell like a homeless angel in the skies.”

Novella, who is signed to prominent South African label Native Rhythms, composed ‘Ntsumi’ along with producer Albino Mbie. She provides the vocals and light percussion, with Mbie on guitars and timbila. Also featuring on the track are Nigerian bassist Chuks Okpu and Senegalese percussionist Lamine Toure. It was recorded at AM Productions in Cambridge, USA.


With over 18 000 entries submitted from almost 120 countries, a total of 351 deserving songwriters were honored this year in 23 different categories, earning First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention placements. ‘Ntsumi’ earned the third place award in the ISC's World Music category behind winner ‘A Leggenda Du Piscaturi’ by Italian brothers Maurizio and Roberto Giannone from the band Corimè and second placed ‘Ho Jamalo’ by Canadian band Sultans of String, from their album Subcontinental Drift.

American singer-songwriter Skrizzly Adams took home the competition’s Grand Prize for his song ‘Tipping Point’. In addition to winning $25 000 in cash, he receives almost $25 000 in services and merchandise, including a custom-built Lowden guitar valued at over $11 000, a Marshall amp and cabinet, a PDP drum kit, an Ultimate Ears Megaboom speaker, and much more.

Founded in 2002 and based in the American musical heartland of Nashville, Tennessee, the ISC is an annual song contest whose mission is to provide the opportunity for both aspiring and established songwriters to have their songs heard in a professional, international arena. It is designed to nurture the musical talent of songwriters on all levels and promote excellence in the art of songwriting. Amateur and professional songwriters and musicians are invited to participate.

The ISC offers songwriters the opportunity to have their songs heard by the most influential decision-makers in the global music industry. This year’s winners were selected by a prestigious panel of judges which included musicians such as Keb’ Mo’, Sean Paul, Afro Celt Sound System, Kesha, Bill Withers, Tom Waits and Hardwell, along with numerous industry heavyweights from Atlantic Records, Warner Bros, Capitol Records and others.

The ISC is now accepting entries for 2016 - for more information visit their website.


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