Immanuel Ndume, also known as Ndawana, a traditional and Afro-pop musician from the north, has been active in the music industry since 2015.
Despite this, he says he is not widely known as an artist locally.
Ndawana moved into the spotlight in 2015, when his hit song ‘Ondjila Oile’, which means “long journey”, won in the Afro-pop category at the African Upcoming Musician Awards in Nigeria.
Since then, the singer has been promoting local music internationally and performing abroad.
Ndawana was also nominated for the Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMAs) in the categories of best traditional and best shambo artist in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
He sat down with The Weekender this week to discuss his love of music, his eagerly awaited third musical endeavour and how he hopes to become known as an artist who has made contributions to the music business.
Ndawana says he started making music when he was 13 years old after taking multiple composing classes.
While still at high school, he began collaborating with musicians such as YoungT, Dama MoniQue, and Neslow, he says.
He says his 2016 debut album, ‘Ondjila Oile’, was about his journey onto the music scene.
“I had to sacrifice a lot in order to work in the music industry, and my family was really hostile, so it wasn’t easy,” he says.
Ndawana says with his second album, ‘Sound of My Drums’, he first developed the sounds and tone required to be successful in the industry.
“I had to study the melodies and the people I needed to work with in order to get the finest sounds,” he says.
His third album, ‘I Am Ready’, which will be released by the end of this month, progresses from his first two, Ndawana says.
“Now that I have everything, I’m prepared to give all – my greatest tunes, sounds and performances – because I’m prepared. This CD will showcase my musical career in its best light this year.”
On top of this, one of his singles from his upcoming album, ‘KoShakati’, has been nominated for an international prize at the AfriFame Awards.
Ndawana was nominated in the category of best Afro-pop artist in southern Africa towards the end of July.
Ndawana’s new album is produced by Zimbabwean producer Sladge, the owner of Zunde Records, based at Ongwediva.
On his upcoming album, the singer has collaborated with emerging musicians, including Nghelo Yamkwamani, VDKei, Kaboy Kamakili, RecordNation, Malyenge and V-Man.
Additionally, he has worked with two foreign musicians, StarFace from Zambia and Serge Beynaud from Ivory Coast.
Ndawana says his 15-track album features a variety of musical styles, including Tanzanian-inspired bongo flavour, Afro-pop, amapiano and shambo.
“I had to release this album after five years, because I didn’t want to rush my art, as this may ruin my creativity and music quality,” he says.
The singer says those who are getting married soon will appreciate his love songs, produced with live guitar and drums by an international producer.
He says because this is his best album to date, he chose the people who appeared on it based on their strengths.
“The entire album is ready to go, but it was not simple to put this lovely work of art together to sound the way it does now. We had to borrow equipment we didn’t have in our production, like the live drums, the traditional drum and other percussion instruments,” says Ndawana.
The song ‘I Am Ready’, featuring RecordNation and V-Man, is among the album’s best tracks, he says.
The song has an amapiano vibe, and Ndawana says it is enhanced by his personal aesthetic.
‘I Don’t Care’, featuring Vdkei, is another one to look forward to on the album, he says.
Ndawana says a traditional Zimbabwean dance served as inspiration for the song.
He says the track ‘This Is Beautiful’ is ideal for wedding celebrations.
“It is one of those songs you will just love for no reason,” he says.
Currently, Ndawana has a new music video out for the song ‘Yambidideindje’, which means “help me”, and it’s available on YouTube.
The video was shot by V-Man Films.
Ndawana says his nationwide promotional tour will begin on 1 September.
He says he will choose two locations for his tour at every town.
“For my first tour, I have so far announced five towns, beginning with Oshivelo and Omuthiya,” he says.
DJ Fox, Nilton Namibia, Malyenge, Lodren, Gabby Mandi, Duppa and OkaJerly are among the artists who will also be performing on the singer’s tour.
“You can expect non-stop entertainment if you see us approaching, since I chose these performers because of their abilities to perform.
“If you see us coming, expect entertainment to the fullest,” he says.
The album tour, he adds, will run until the middle of October.
Following that, he will also organise an album launch party to be headlined by South African dance group Limpopo Boys and other local performers.
Ndawana urges local media and journalists not to ignore up-and-coming musicians, since they are promoting Namibian music internationally.
“Let’s help one another to grow together, let’s promote each other,” he advises his fellow musicians.