‘Kuza, “Dreams (Amaphupho Am)”, Feat. Jillian Shively

As you may have noticed by now, Tonemill is quite the exclusive club. So far (with the exception of a quick virtual trip to London), this party has had a strict New Yorker-only policy. And though nobody will agree more than the Tonemamas that New York City is an endless gold mine of unparalleled talent and creativity, even we need a change of scenery every now and then. (No offence Lady Lib!) So with no further ado;  Ladies! Trans! Non-binaries! Gentlemen! Binaries! Dyadics! Pans! All other genders out there!! Welcome TOOOOO **Djembe drum roll** SOUTH AFRICA WEEK!!! 


Guiding us through the lush bushveld of South African contemporary music is artist, composer, songwriter and singer ‘Kuza with his latest single “Dreams (Amaphupho Am)” featuring Jillian Shively. ‘Kuza was classically trained in Cape Town, but is currently residing in Colorado where he just earned his Master’s degree – and let’s just say his training has paid off.  

“Dreams (Amaphupho Am)” starts with a fade-in of a voice so deep and resonating it almost reminds us of overtone chanting or throat singing. This lasts only a few seconds before transporting us into a dreamy landscape of rich, dark pads. Contrast seems to be a friend of ‘Kuza, and a clear consistent musical choice in this track – when Jillian Shively’s clear and high voice cuts through the mystical, dark synths it’s like the the early rays of a scorching African sun sweeping away the previous evening’s warm shadows. 

And Tonemillers, how about that vocal arrangement! As we’re listening to it, the Tonemamas start sweating on the virtual verandah we’re sitting on somewhere in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. We have to  start removing the layers of our safari clothing (such tourists!), because talk about a powerful build-up! For each round he introduces more and more choir elements until it becomes a true vocal spectacle. The rhythm underneath drives at a  faster pace still with Jillian’s clear and beautiful voice over the dark pads and haunting backup vocals repeating “Amaphupho Am” (Zulu for “my dream”) . As we allow ourselves to sink into the music we can’t help but conjure up the image of forest elves running across a vast South African savannah. 

Dreams (Amaphupho Am) – ‘Kuza, Jillian Shively

‘Kuza himself states that as an artist he wishes to “harmonize the silence rather than just add to the noise”.  We don’t know about you, but the Tonemamas think we can safely say that he has met and succeeded in his vision.The forward motion, the drive, the excellent tension and release keeps us on our toes and only leaves us wanting more. Music supervisors, hurry up and grab ‘Kuza for your films!!!

Listen for: 0:52 when the backup vocals mumbles and fades in – CHILLS and GOOSEBUMPS!

Best enjoyed: When you’re dancing contemporary-style while naked in the kitchen (remember to keep your curtains open!), or when you’re skinny dipping, or when you’re running naked around the forest (Whaaat? We were just kidding with that last one! We don’t do that! Gosh…)

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