Linda Sikhakhane: Two Sides, One Mirror

Seton Hawkins By

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AAJ: So the studio and session allowed for that flexible approach?

LS: Yes indeed.

AAJ: One song that jumps out, as it's so distinct from the others in its tone, is "A Night in D.C." What is its story?

LS: Back in 2012 and 2013, I was part of a group at UKZN that was invited to Virginia Commonwealth University for a cultural exchange program. In year 2013 the group recorded in South Africa then Richmond, Virginia. After the recording we went to Washington D.C. and spent a day there, visited the Library of Congress and many other places. Later in the night we went to watch Kendrick Scott perform at the Bohemian Caverns, which was a really special inspiring concert. When we went back to the hotel after that concert, I heard this particular bass line and melody. The whole song just came like that to me. So I named it "A Night in D.C.," because it was a beautiful night in Washington D.C.

AAJ: Another one that jumps out is "Influential Moments."

LS: "Influential Moments" came when I was reflecting on events that have occurred in my life, sometimes a melody would come through these reflections. In this case themes that I was playing over and over at a gig I had in Durban gave birth to this song.

AAJ: The liner notes also mention one of the songs is a dedication to your grandmother and to your upbringing...

LS: Yes, that's "uKaMadinana." It is a dedication to my late maternal grandmother. So back in the day, we would visit her in Joburg, and then visit my paternal grandmother in KwaNongoma after Christmas. We would go to visit usually at Christmas, This particular song was composed on the 25th of December, I was alone back home in Umlazi while the rest of the family was in the rural areas. I was thinking deeply about my grandmother, who passed on a couple of years ago. I was reflecting on the Christmas Days I've had before with her. This is how the song came, and with that song, it took me a long time to have a final product of the composition. It was just a melody with no harmony, but the night before the recording, Nduduzo added harmony to the song. It was really exciting to hear the full version of the song after the recording.

AAJ: With you now in New York, how has that transition fared? Are there new projects developing?

LS: New York has a very huge scene, and it keeps you on your toes. It has so much to offer, and I meet so many great players. It is humbling. This scene has really made me appreciate who I am, and where I come from. That is important, to have certain nuances that really describe who you are and where you come from. I think that comes up when I play at jam sessions and in concerts.

This place has been good place for me to network and get closer to the source. I recently debuted my gig as a leader in the city. There are projects developing and I foresee a strong connection between South African and American artists. I've been also writing new music that I hope to record soon in New York .

Selected Discography:

Nduduzo Makhathini, Mother Tongue, (Gundu Entertainment, 2014)
Luyanda Madope and H3, Connecting Generations, (Yanda Productions, 2017)
Linda Sikhakhane, Two Sides, One Mirror, (Skay Music, 2017)

Cover Photo Credit: Sufi Don
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