Namibia’s Ruby nominated for Afrima Awards

Prolific Afro Jazz sensation, Nancy Dunaiski aka Ruby The Pigeon has been shortlisted for the AFRIMA Awards in the best female artist in Southern Africa and best female artist inspirational music categories. 

 This is a bold gesture of acknowledgment of her success in the African musical space as well as how far she has come from the time she got recognised as an unpolished germ doing vocals for a church choir years ago. 

Nancy’s music has broken geopolitical barriers as far as inspiration and reach is concerned and her impassioned voice continues to ride waves in Europe.

She has been late to make the announcement, she tells Vibe, but she is okay with her fans voting for anyone in her category that they think deserves the gongs.

Voting ends on the 30th of October.

It took a single call for this lanky soft natured muse to grace our office and after a brief attempt at directing her, she shows up in a floral deep-colored dress that accentuated her svelte, pronounced frame.

Buried in the crowds and fingering on her phone, nothing about her suggests a finely tuned artist nearing a possible crest of success and as we traverse the busy high way off to the newsroom, she is more than keen to express her emotions on the good and the bad of local art.

“Our artists are childish,” she begins, balancing her braided head on long-inched heels, her eyes glimmering in the glare of the October open sun-sprayed sky.

 Although her sounds have reached the ears of the powers that be as far as the circle that encloses the entertainment industry is concerned, more still needs to be done to support the arts.

 As we round up the street towards our offices, she can not hold back her disgust at the manner in which authorities have regimented musical genres to the detriment of others.

 She says this is a sharp polarising contrast to the much-needed panacea the industry is in dire need of in order to come out of its localised shell and break into the Broadway towards accelerated international repute. 

“And that is the reason why I did not find any pleasure in wanting to be a part of the Jazz Festival,” she says sipping on her teeth, “It makes it as if Jazz is all that matters.”

The Windhoek Jazz Fest is considered the super-bowl of local talent and a festival of sound that caps the year before December beckons in the din of jingle bells and everything about Santa. 

Already she has set her tone clear, she is not here to sugar coat, to kiss and caress and heap everything up with shallow words of fragrant misdirected praise and hero-worshipping.

Why not, music had taken her places and through the experience of it all, she strikes as one artist that seeks to hit the global ear with the musical bug of originality.

It is a feat that many an artist are wrestling with as they hover between being western as much as they want to be South African, sort of demented voices in the wilderness going nowhere quickly.

I motion her for a seat to which she obliges and does a quick swing to set her neck-jewellery proper, clear her throat and do the business of the day, tablet not far from the reach of her lanky hands.

“I am nervous each time I have to be with the media,” she says with a sardonic careless laugh which we smother with the question of when exactly she had started off. 

Yet she is more determined to cross over to her fan-base with the message of Afrima Awards and how they should vote. 

 “It’s gonna be in Ghana. This is organised by all Africa music and the judges were picked up from different places,” she says.

Does this speak of a sound that is no more Namibian-confined and of an artist that has made it?

 

Ruby’s response resonates with an aura of humility and self-containment.

“No not really, I can say I have recognition here and once you get recognised for your music, it’s a foundation laid for you. As an artist, no matter how good you are, you always have to respect those above you,” her eyes narrow down through her articulation. 

It takes determination, continuous support and dreaming to figure out the path of success and reaching one’s pinnacle, she philosophises.

From deep down her creative well, she has dished out Inyaka nyaka which is thought to have pushed her status from common ground into a forceful Queen of Afro Jazz.

 

Her voice is as organic as it comes and she gives it her best whether it’s a slow-paced jam or a fast-moving house sound as in the case of Ready and Hamba.

The instrument arrangement in all these is meticulous, the beat comes out tough as nails and as sharp as a whip with a rhythm that splashes like sheets of water bouncing off a smooth gorge.

She sings in Zulu and Tswana and seeks to unite ethnicities with universal messages of love, hate and everything in between i.e. Sponono, Rolong Tholong, and Inyaka nyaka.  

It is by no doubt that she finds inspiration in Brenda Fassie while it is hard to localise her sound within the Namibian provenance.

As we round up our interview, through tangents of selfies and handshakes, Ruby is open to exploring the magic of budding talent.

"They should not feel intimated," she said. 

 

If she is not in studio cooking beats and vocals, Ruby is cooking or hanging out with friends.

 

She is currently signed to Music Factory Media House Namibia not far from the eye and inspiration of her husband.