Even the largest avalance is triggered by small things. If this saying it anything to go by, Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni is a true testimony to how big things can really come in small packages. With this eponymous album, singer-songwriter Tribute has triggered an avalanche with her voice so strong and soulful, wrapped up in neo-soul, pop and jazz influences.
Born and raised in Mkhuhlu, Mpumalanga, Birdie joins a new breed of soul musicians in South African and internationally who are putting their own modern take on the classic soul sound - and doing it justice. She is the latest edition to what already is a highly competitive music scene (including Lira, Simphiwe Dana, Zonke, Thandiswa and others) but has fast carved out her own path.
Although this is her debut album, Tribute has already carved her niche as a performing artist, having serenaded audiences in Qatar and Dubai in the Middle East, where she took up an artist’s residence playing with a jazz band featuring some of South Africa’s top musicians. No stranger to the stage, she has performed at international events such as COP17 climate change conference in Durban in 2011, as well as Earth Fest in Zambia and a string a local concerts, including the Grahamstown National Arts Festival in 2014, where she gave several stellar performances and received great reviews for her soulful offering.
Spotted at the ‘Born To Be Famous’ showcase by Native Rhythms founder, award-winning producer Sipho Sithole, Tribute has finally recorded an album that teaches us that music knows no barriers - it can penetrate the hardest of hearts and inject love and hope where once was only despair. In her own words, the singer testifies that she “found joy not in finishing the album but in the activity that went into crafting and recording it, which proved that the ultimate measure of success is the actual journey and not the destination”.
The 16-track album is full of songs that make one instantly fall in love with Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni. Standout tracks include the grandiose ‘Not For Me’ and love-soaked ‘Lerato’. ‘MaGumede’ is a cover of Dorothy Masuka, in tribute to the legendary singer recorded after she was honoured as the face of the Moshito music conference in 2014. Birdie writes most of the lyrics on the album, while legendary guitarist Themba Mokoena adds his inimitable fretwork to most of the tracks. With her distinctive, soulful sound and style, Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni shows that South Africa’s proud legacy of female jazz vocalists is in good hands.
Buy the album from iTunes here.