Prisca Abranches

Meet Luanga Choba's music universe

Luanga Choba, a former doctor who decided to pursue her dream and to fully devote herself to her passion: music.

Who is Luanga Choba?

Luanga Choba is a South African singer who also happens to be a medical doctor. I create my songs and here's where I tend to feel  uncomfortable calling myself a "songwriter". It feels more truthful to me to say I'm a conveyor or conduit of song. How they come about, especially for one who has never been to music school, is of spiritual origin. I work on them and refine them but I don't feel that I "write" them. All I am is a messenger. If it makes sense...

How would you describe your music?

I mentioned I'm not musically educated. I do know my music is soulful and has strong African tones. I project it in as authentically a manner as is comfortable and frankly, I neither understand nor like, genre...: a sentiment shared by many fellow creatives. I leave categorization to those who understand it better than me. I also sing predominantly in my mother tongue of Setswana, which is a poorly represented language in the South African musical landscape. This part means alot to me.

What were your influences?

To me the most important influence is Divine: where the music comes from. But my favourite greats include Tracey Chapman, Busi Mhlongo, Brenda Fassie and Al Jarreaux.

How are you getting on with the album?

I dropped my first album as an independent artist in 2013. I'd quit Medicine to launch the album and immerse myself completely in my true passion, some six months before that. It was quite a risky thing to do but very character building at thesame time. And the lessons have been enormous, the biggest being that navigating this well subscribed space isn't for the faint hearted and that nothing is ever achieved alone. So the album did not take off as well as I'd hoped. The lessons learned from my roukie experience I intend to fully utilize in the release of the next album and that means a better product and  finding a winning team of experts to get it out there. I've learned to take my time. The plan is to have a new release by next June.

What brings you to Amsterdam?

I worked as a doctor in the UK for 4 years before returning to SA in 2009 and Amsterdam had been an alluring place knew I'd visit some day. Moreover, there is this a general sentiment that African music is better appreciated here in Europe compared to Africa. I thought Amsterdam would be a nice place to start exploring that myth. Lastly, I'm living my fantasy of shortening my exposure to winter in SA by several days by visiting a place where it's summer during South African winter. I'm happier in warmer wheather, by design. Last year I was in Zanzibar around the same time.

So I'm always on the look-out for opportunities to perform or jam or network with other musicians or festival promoters etc. I attended the Kwaku fest last weekend and introduced myself to one of the organizers and some performers whom I feel could be possible collaborations, handing my cd and business card in the process. You just never know who you'll meet with whom musical chemistry could give rise to mutually beneficial projects.  Tomorrow I'm attending a jam session of a locally based South African musician and his contacts. I'm excited about this event. Otherwise I have my eyes always peeled for any opportunity to sing while I'm here. And of course I'm also being a tourist of this amazing city.

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