‘It’s about loving yourself, family and learning from experiences of heartache too,” says Swiss singer/ songwriter Brigitte Neumarker.
The beauty with the orange-tinged afro is in Cape Town for an exclusive performance at the Shnit International Short Film Festival this evening while promoting her debut album, Reflections of Love.
Though hailing from Switzerland, it was Neumarker’s love for the African sounds of SA that first led her to the country in 2008.
“I was listening to a lot of South African jazz and loved the history of the country, what people have gone through and how they express themselves musically.”
She met local producer and drummer Kissangwa Mbouta, and he was able to capture the Afro-soul tinged sound Neumarker had been yearning for.
Reflections of Love reflects Neumarker’s warmth and honesty. The fusion of jazz, folk and soul is fresh, and enhanced by her sultry vocals. The interchanging instrumentation and songs display her vivid lyrics and melodies.
Various top local artists’ collaborations can be heard in the form of Zami Ndingi from Coda, Xoliswa Tom and Duke Ngcukana and Bokani Dyer on the keyboard.
The singer’s first gigs with various jazz outfits allowed her to experiment with trip hop, which also saw her join the Winterthur funk and soul band, the Funky Friends. Here Neumarker was able to hone her songwriting skills in her contribution to the band’s debut album, Kizumbombo.
A classically trained vocalist and instrumentalist, Neumarker says music was compulsory when growing up.
“Music was just in our family environment. My father studied the trumpet and it was compulsory for us to play an instrument. The chosen instrument was the flute and I was the only lucky one of three siblings who didn’t have to play it. I played the violin,” she giggles.
But Neumarker soon ditched her instrument, for all she really wanted to do was sing.
“I convinced my parents to let me take singing lessons at the age of 13.”
Singing is not the only thing that occupies the Swiss beauty’s time. I soon discovered that a qualified IT engineer sat before me.
“If you do music then it’s something creative, and IT is more logical, so I feel like it’s a good balance,” she smiles.
“I think you must be brave to choose music; I wasn’t brave enough back then, but I will be fully devoting my time to it. I keep on doing it so that my family can see that I’m serious about it.”
As a songwriter, the Afro-soul singer believes she not only needs to tell her own story, but to try to feel what it would be.
“When writing songs it’s about yourself in people’s shoes; what they experience. I didn’t want to write about love, but in the end it just came out that way.”
Capetonians can feel Neumarker’s love at tonight’s performance at Duplicity, where she will be accompanied by a full band.