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Eska Mtungwazi

Eska Mtungwazi

Eska Mtungwazi
@ The Royal Festival Hall, London
2 April 2005

Click an image to enlarge.


Zimbabwean born Eska Mtungwazi is a highly respected vocalist, songwriter and producer, especially amongst the British jazz / soul fraternity, who have embraced her open approach and positive attitude. I had spoken with a few ‘music hungry’ colleagues on my way to see her at the Royal Festival Hall, in an attempt to gain further ‘on street knowledge’. I also wanted to gauge others opinion and feeling towards her music. Though there was much disagreement in trying to compare her style, artists such as Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Carole King and Prince came to the forefront. Such high acclaim is amazing considering she is yet to release any solo material.

Her recording collaborations and live performance resume to date includes a host of diverse, accomplished musicians such as the award winning alto-saxophonist Soweto Kinch, tenor saxophonist Denys Baptiste, multi-instrumentalist Nitin Sawhney, neo-soul artist Julie Dexter, Courtney Pine, Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, Lewis Taylor and the Philadelphia-based Jazz / hip hop project Quite Sane, to name a few.


The many cultures and the united colours of London filled the dedicated area set aside for Eska Mtungwazi at The Royal Festival Hall. This concert was part of the ‘Africa 05’ programme. Celebrating African influence on the world by highlighting it’s many wonders, such as African arts & craft, music & dance as well as supporting many workshops. The festival will continue up until October 2005.

Mtungwazi's first soulful contribution started with one of her own homegrown piano led compositions, drenched in the old soul / R’n’B spirit. This song like many others to follow where performed with anonymous titles, which without knowing it further added an air of mystique and originality to her delivery. Throughout her impromptu set she weaved in and out of many worldly rhythms, inviting her adept fellow musicians, as well as her audience into the magical musical world of Eska Mtungwazi. Eska was even able to ‘spice up’ the already renowned flavours of Marley’s “Three little birds” and The Police “Walking on the Moon” by adding her own infectious worldly rhythms and ‘rootsy’ approach.

It is clear Mtungwazi transcends many musical genres and styles. You can close your eyes and become surrounded by the many eclectic sounds and heat of Africa, the old skool R‘n’B tradition, as well as the modern. Whatever her mood dictates, she is able to reach deep into the heart of music. With heart wrenching ballads Mtungwazi offers real insight and understanding. With up-tempo offerings you can feel the deeply soulful / jazzy layers with gospel undertones. You cannot help but be inspired by her unbounded energy and spiritual presence when she is vocalising behind the piano, or up front on stage dancing and enticing her enraptured audience to participate.

Much respect is also due to Lionheart, who shared the stage with Eska briefly to demonstrate his extraordinary beat box skills. You couldn’t help but wonder if this young man had swallowed a few pneumatic power tools to enable him to reproduce such a wide range of controlled reverberating sounds.

Mtungwazi describes her musical journey as “a calling!” She is fully aware of the many pitfalls, false promises and negative baggage the music industry has to offer ‘real young talented musicians’.

“I want my music to be heard”. She quoted confidently. “But everything takes time and money, I will take my time!”

All real music lovers had better look out for Eska Mtungwazi in the very near future!

Robin Francis
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.


Eska Mtungwazi




Eska - Gatekeeper



Click Eska's image below to see her @ Jazz Voice (EFG London Jazz Festival 2013)...

Eska Mtungwazi @ Jazz Voice (EFG London Jazz Festival 2013)  (click to go to this page)

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