Unathi Msengana is a South African born musician, radio host and Idols SA judge. She is well known in the afro-jazz genre and often croons in her mother tongue of Xhosa on the things that inspire her about being young, gifted and black.
A self-professed “village girl”, she often speaks affectionately of her home town of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. Her love for the simplicity and majesty of the place is often brought to life in the stories told in her music. After graduating from the School of Journalism and Drama at Rhodes University she took to Johannesburg to carve out a career for herself.
Her music career started by sheer chance when her friend Zola, also a well-known kwaito musician, heard her casually sing in the corridors of Yfm, the youth radio station she used to work at, and dragged her into the studio for a recording. From that the hit lovers’ song “Sana Lwami” was born, which catapulted her into her now burgeoning music career.
She has since worked with various artists around the continent and counts opening for John Legend – who happens to be one of her all-time favourites – twice in her career and receiving a standing ovation from legendary music producer Quincy Jones at a United Nations dinner as some of the highlights of her career so far.
Unathi has also been nominated twice at the South African Music Awards (SAMAs). She was voted as South Africa’s Best Female at the Metro FM Music Awards in 2013 as well as being nominated for Best African Adult Album at the SAMAs in 2012.
She’s performed around the continent, Paris and New York and has been involved in a number of projects which include writing the theme song for an international blockbuster on a soundtrack that featured artists like Esperanza Spalding.
She has also shared a stage with Senegalese music legend Youssou N’Dour and recently launched her third studio album which is aptly titled Alive.
Don’t miss the songstress on the Big Brother Hotshots grand finale stage this Sunday as she performs hits from her new album alongside some of your favourites!