Simphiwe Dana

Born on 23 January 1980 in Gcuwa, Simphiwe Dana is a South African Xhosa singer and songwriter. She has been hailed as the "new Miriam Makeba due to her unique combination of Jazz, Afro-soul, Rap and Traditional music.  She is also known for her creative social commentary and activism through music as a political art form.

Early life

Simphiwe was born in Gcuwa (Butterworth), Transkei, in the Eastern Cape, South Africa and raised in the town of Lusikisiki (in the Ingquza Hill Local Municipality).

Dana came from a religious background with her father being a preacher and as she grew up in the church, exposing her to music in both choral and gospel forms. 


She went to Vela Private School in Mthatha, where she matriculated in 1997. At tertiary level, she pursued her interests in graphic design, and she successfully studied for her National Diploma in IT at the Wits Technikon, Johannesburg.


From 2002, she sang in small clubs in Johannesburg, where she began attracting attention, then she made a major impact in South Africa with the release in 2004 of Zandisile. The album sold very well and gained several awards, including some South African Music Award (SAMA) in 2005. On its worldwide release the album gained success in the Billboard charts and she won an AVO Session Basel Award.

Among the songs in Dana's repertoire are "Ndiredi", "Troubled Soldier", "Chula Ukunyathela", "Bantu Biko Street", "Zundiqondisise", "Uzobuya Nini", "Sonini Nanini" and "Naphakade". She also sings the theme song of the Yizo Yizo television show.

She has maintained a strong presence, with consistent radio play and live appearances at key national events and Festivals such as Arts Alive, the Capetown International Jazz Festival and the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

Her third album, Kulture Noir, was released in the summer of 2010. She later released her live album, An Evening with Sipmhiwe Dana Live in Concert, which features her singing some of her best hits accompanied by a 27-piece orchestra. Dana has been vocal on topical issues in social media, including political issues in South Africa.


Dana's music draws strongly on her upbringing in the Transkei, as she cites the powerful singing of her mother as an inspiration for her and her siblings, and ultimately as a key motivator in her resolve to pursue her musical career.

In 2005, Dana won the "Best Newcomer" award and Best Jazz Vocal album at the 11th SAMA with her first album Zandisile.

Two years later, she was named the "Best Female Artist", with the song "The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street", at the 13th South African Music Awards. She is a creative advocate of Afrofuturism and Afrofeminism.

Contemplating leaving the industry

On 22 March 2020, Simphiwe revealed that she is contemplating leaving the industry because of its financial instability after dropping her much anticipated album, Bamako. The musician  said she intended not to learn the hard way, like her musical idols Busi Mhlongo and Miriam Makeba did, about the lack of regard the industry (particularly) in South Africa has for its artists.

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Simphiwe Dana
First Name Simphiwe
Surname Dana
Born 23rd January, 1980
Home City
Current City Johannesburg, South Africa