Germany’s Joy Denalane is one of the best soul singers on the planet. Period. Born 11 June 1973 in Berlin, her mother is German and her father South African. When she was sixteen she left home and started a life long career as a vocalist.
Although German is her mother tongue, she occasionally records in English. Her debut studio album was Mamani in 1973 and featured a cameo appearance by Hugh Masekela on the title track. She had journeyed to South Africa to meet her paternal family.
After over 15 years, Joy continues to pursue a career as a singer. Here are tracks covering her career. They range broadly across her social and political concerns.
Joy is forthright in her emphasis on gender concerns. She sings of the struggles as well as the sweetness of personal intimacy.
What is distinctive about Joy’s music is how she is able to communicate across the language barrier. I remember when I got ahold of her first album and was so excited because of how strongly the music overcame my limited foreign language skills. She just sounded like a woman I knew. Someone familiar. A sister from around the corner even though, in truth, she was from the other side of the world.
As Joy Denalane so ably illustrates, Germany has got soul, y’all. And what a tremendous joy it is to behold.