( ENSPIRE Feature ) Award-Winning Artist Amanda Black Releases Mnyama, A New Album Detailing Mental Health
ENSPIRE Contributor: Keegan Kerns
Amanda Black, a South African soul, R&B singer/songwriter, and the 2017 BET “Best International Act” winner, released Mnyama on August 11th, her highly awaited third studio album, on Sony Music Africa.
Listeners are invited to join the worldwide artist in an open environment as she takes them on a beautiful and contemplative sonic journey through loss and redemption. Amanda’s varied style is showcased on the 10-song album, including duets with South African singers Berita and J’Something, longtime producer Christer, and South African rapper Kwesta Dakar. This album follows a tumultuous year in which something elevated mental health and wellness to the foreground amid a global pandemic. Amanda wrote Mnyama, which translates to Black, after coping with sorrow, isolation, heartbreak, and self-doubt in her most vulnerable project to date.
Mnyama is now available to stream, download, and purchase worldwide HERE.
The album addresses a wide variety of themes and emotional states through Amanda Black’s own personal journey, with songs such as “Ndaniheli” speaking to the complex relationship she had with an old partner all under the beautiful construction of an old Xhosa hymn. Similarly, in “Amagingxi,” Amanda Black sings about the pain of these events but also speaks about how she will continue to persevere over amagingxiginxi, or hurdles.
Amanda Black’s songs not only speak to deeply emotional and personal messages but express as well a powerfully unique style, most noticeable in the smooth transitions between her native tongue, Xhosa, and English. While the strength and control over her vocal performance already make her songs incredibly powerful, this unique cultural mixture helps contribute an interesting new perspective and sound for many listeners, and one that is certainly worth listening to at that.
Amanda Black has also spoken at length about the difficulties and goals she had while writing this album, saying that “I have bared my soul for the listener to encourage them and let them know that they will be okay. When I wrote this album, it was the first time where it had nothing to do with proving that I can do it; it was about me and my mental process and ultimately my mental health because I allowed myself to be vulnerable and face the things that I normally would distract myself from. So these are the conversations I’ve been having with myself.”
Similarly, she speaks to the power of the healing process, especially regarding emotional issues, stating that “I urge the listener not to rush the healing process, rather face it head-on and allow it to happen because when we run away from ourselves, that’s where the real melancholy is,” states Amanda. In “Ungayeki,” Amanda reminds us that “something will change”; therefore, we should all remain steadfast and keep fighting. “I encourage people never to lose sight of themselves, and if they do, which often happens because this is life, they go back to the beginning to help them see the vision again, to see themselves again.” “Kutheni Na,” the first single off the album, speaks of the collective experience as a result of the pandemic and knowing how it feels to experience loss – whether it’s a job, a loved one, home, or even just a sense of security.
In the end, Amanda Black describes the album as a representation of the emotional process. She describes how “self-love is a journey, and we always expect to get to the final destination quickly, but the final destination is you. You have to be okay with yourself. It’s the biggest part of the journey”, and it’s that positive message of acceptance of oneself despite the difficult experiences we might go through that makes this album so unique. Not only does it display immense musical talent, but it can help guide people to become happy with themselves during challenging times.
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