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4 lessons to take from Moonchild Sanelly on finding your voice

With international audiences and artists alike gravitating towards Moonchild Sanelly’s multifaceted yet minimalist sound, it’s not difficult to see why her performances have made her a go-to for Pan-African social, sexual commentary verses. Known for her unapologetically outspoken nature, alongside her patented blue hair, there is no one better to look to for lessons on how to find, claim and retain your voice than the fiercely-feminine, South African songwriter.

Moonchild Sanelly joins us on Monday 29th 7pm GMT for a live, interactive Q&A session on the virtual stage. Sign up for free HERE.

1 — Be authentically you. Moonchild Sanelly has spoken about various critics that she has encountered along the way, including some closer to home. Yet there is something almost flippant about the way she defends her approach to life without missing a beat, and how she has previously relished in the discomfort she has caused with some of her material, that is undeniably connected to the authenticity thread that runs through everything she touches. It is what has continued to captivate her audiences for over a decade of her creating (fashion,) poetry and music, and what has brought about huge collaborations with artists on her wish list, namely Beyonce, Damon Albarn and Diplo. Its likely that any seat at the top table just wouldn’t feel right if you’d had to compromise your values on the way there.

2 — Speak your language. Whether it’s your twang, your slang or your native tongue; the sounds, scenes or stories from where you’ve come from, there is power in speaking to and for your people and one of Sanelly’s signatures is her seamless blend of Xhosa and English. There is something magical, emotive and genuine about sharing that part of home with a wider audience. Whether you end up performing locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally, there is a reciprocity that feels present in such representation — taking your home, community and culture with you to new heights, whilst not losing sight nor sound of your roots. Sanelly has shared the significance of her ongoing use of ‘Xhonglish’ and the importance of being appreciated by those who ‘actually understand’ her music. After all, what’s your voice without your language?

3 — Own your narrative. Having notably endured and overcome instances of major adversity, and ever-conscious of the hold censorship, criticism and taboo still has over so many women, Moonchild Sanelly has not let any of this define her. Rather she has positioned her core beliefs at the forefront of her journey, challenged the status quo, whilst confronting hurt and healing alike, and channelling both into an indomitable, incomparable and invigorating sound, taking full ownership of her narrative.

4 — The result of the above is a growing discography of self-termed ‘electro-pop-ghetto-funk’ that is playful, yet powerful, fuelled by a fight for women’s freedom and empowerment. Nüdes EP is a project that at its heart is about women’s liberation, that has contributed to an ongoing conversation — often taboo — about women and sexuality. Outside of music, Moonchild Sanelly also uses her platform to promote the importance of body positivity, education, health and welfare, making her a shining example of how to command attention and not compromise on the fight for equality.

And to that end, the final lesson to be learned from Moonchild Sanelly is, when you find your voice don’t be afraid to use it.

Moonchild Sanelly joins us on Monday 29th 7pm GMT for a live, interactive Q&A session on the virtual stage. Sign up for free HERE.

Written by Ammi Scott-Samuels

The world's stage for music education.