Young, vibrant, and heavily melanated, with the voice of a goddess, Azana has captured the hearts of millions of South Africans with her soulful music. Even though she came onto the music scene in 2020, there is nothing childish or inexperienced about Azana’s music. She is a talented vocalist and songwriter who has blessed us with hits like Uhuru and Your Love.
The Egoli singer has successfully carved a niche for herself in South Africa’s cut-throat music industry with her unique fusion of neo-soul, afro-pop, and house music, all sung in her rich, beautiful voice in either English or her native language, Isizulu. Judging by how quickly she claimed her spot as South Africa’s No. 1 queen of soul, we can only prepare ourselves for the fire that only Azana can bring.
Azana Was Born in Chesterville, Durban
Azana’s real name is Makhosazana Masongo, and she was born in Durban in the year 2000. She grew up with her parents and two brothers in the hilly town of Chesterville, somewhere in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. She has said in a recent interview that her name ‘Makhosazana’ means ‘Princess,’ a name her parents lovingly bestowed on her because of her last-born status. Her family was a small one, and growing up as the Masongo’s last child, and only daughter meant that she was pampered heavily by everyone around her.
Azana was painfully shy as a little child and would sing and dance only when nobody was looking. Her mother discovered her daughter’s talent for singing very early but didn’t want to encourage Azana to pursue a singing career initially. She did this because she wanted to spare her child from being heartbroken in case her career didn’t take off because she knew how tough the music industry could be. This decision did nothing to quench her daughter’s passion for the art. However, as she got older, she began to overcome her shyness to be able to sing in front of large crowds. By the time Azana was done with high school, she had gotten over 12 years’ worth of experience, majorly from singing in choirs.
Azana’s Singing Career Began in Earnest When She Was 15 Years Old
They say that every overnight success takes about 10 years or more. This saying is especially true because some folk erroneously assume that fame drops into people’s laps. In Azana’s case, she went through her entire high school education singing and performing. She would perform in church and other gatherings, training herself to overcome her stage fright. She also got immense support from her school teachers and classmates. When she was 15 years old, she began to record songs in a nearby studio in her vicinity. She decided to drop her full name, Makhosazana, and take up the shortened form ‘Azana,’ which means ‘Queen’ in Zulu.
Azana would later say that the producers in that studio loved her voice so much that she was allowed to record her songs for free, something almost unheard of in that kind of business. Azana decided to take a leap of faith and decided she would relocate to Johannesburg in hopes of achieving her dream of becoming a famous singer. She applied for Law at the University of the Free State, and when she was admitted, she left the village to pursue her dreams. The move was not easy, and her parents were scared because they felt she would be vulnerable in such a large city.
The Songstress Released Her Debut Single, Your Love, in 2020
When she was in the university, Azana quickly joined a choir (again) and collaborated with like-minded artists who played various musical instruments like the guitar and piano. She considered starting a band at some point, but she couldn’t afford the quality of instruments that she needed. So she abandoned the project and decided to focus on a new strategy to make herself visible. Azana’s next move was to take her music to Instagram. She began singing music covers on her Instagram Live.
According to Azana, Instagram was just perfect because it allowed her to be herself while singing without having to worry too much about being professional. It wasn’t long before she caught the attention of Afro-soul musician, Sino Msolo who encouraged her to reach out to celebrity DJ, Sun-El Musician. Azana decided to take his advice; she made another video and uploaded it to Instagram, but this time, she tagged Sun-El Musician, and he responded. Soon after that, while Azana was visiting a friend in Johannesburg, Sun-El Musician picked her up, and they recorded Uhuru’together that night.
The song Uhuru was a lamentation about the state of the country, especially the inequality, youth unemployment, and the state of education. After the success of Uhuru, Azana was signed to his record label, Big City Dreams, and in June 2020, she dropped her debut solo single, Your Love. In July, she immediately followed it up with her critically acclaimed debut album, ‘Ingoma.’ The album gathered a lot of commercial success, with the track Your Love hitting the top spot on South Africa’s Apple Music pop chart. The song also has over 1 million views on YouTube.
Azana’s music has performed so well that even she is surprised at how quickly things moved. Because of how simple and relatable her songs have been, they have managed to find their way from the streaming platforms onto people’s music collections and into their souls.
Azana’s Songs and Albums
Even though ‘Your Love’ remains the best performing single from Azana’s debut album, other important songs from that album show how diverse the singer is. The 14-track album opened with a prayer to her African ancestors in a song called Okhokho. In this song, she prays for a successful musical journey. The song is also a tribute to her elder brother, who died tragically at a young age. The next song, Egoli, talks about her decision to take her destiny into her own hands and travel to Johannesburg, where she knew no one.
A third song, Bafazi, showcases Azana’s feminist side. The song was a female empowerment anthem calling women to aim for bigger goals. Here is a list of Azana’s songs from her album:
- Uthando Lwangempela
- Lovers & Best Friends ft. Disciples of House
- Ngize Ngifike
- Buyela Ekhaya
- Let U go
The 14-track album went number 1 on Apple Music’s local pop chart. Azana was also nominated in the Newcomer of the Year category at the 2021 South African Music Awards and performed some of her hit songs at the pre-recorded ceremony. Since her debut, her songs have performed extremely well on most local charts, including the Apple Music top 100 in eSwatini, South Africa and Botswana. In 2019, Azana was featured by Apple Music as part of the streaming platform’s New Artist Spotlight series for August.