Mothers in Jazz

Mothers In Jazz (19): Nomfundo Xaluva


Mothers In Jazz” is a new series, started by vocalist Nicky Schrire. The initiative aims to create an online resource for working jazz musicians with children, those contemplating parenthood, and jazz industry figures who work with and hire musicians who are parents. The insight of the musicians interviewed for this series provides valuable emotional, philosophical and logistical information and support that is easily accessible to all. “Mothers In Jazz” shines a light on the very specific role of being both a mother and a performing jazz musician.

Nomfundo Xaluva is an award-winning South African vocalist and composer. Born and raised in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, she has released two albums on Universal Music and has performed at festivals including the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Johannesburg’s Joy of Jazz Festival. Nomfundo holds a Master’s Degree in Jazz Studies from UCT and an Executive MBA from the Henley Business School. She was an artist in residence at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, and was Vice Chairman of the SA Music Rights Organisation Foundation Board. She is currently on faculty at the University of Cape Town’s South African College of Music where she lectures in the Jazz Studies Department. Nomfundo lives in Cape Town with her husband, trumpeter/vocalist Mandisi Dyantyis, and their 11 month-old baby.

Nomfundo Xaluva. Photo credit: Zukiswa Minyi


LondonJazz News: What is the best advice you received about balancing/juggling motherhood and career?

Nomfundo Xaluva: I actually haven’t received any yet, at least not directly from another parent. I’ve read a lot about it but my sense is that one just has to navigate it for themselves.

LJN:What information or advice do you wish you’d received but didn’t (and had to learn through trial and error or on the go)?

NX: Motherhood is such a huge thing! I received all the written information in the world prior but it still wasn’t enough to prepare me for the life changing experience of first time motherhood.

LJN:Your top tip(s) for other mothers in jazz:

NX: Don’t Stop Working. Of course take maternity leave but get back to work if you can. Motherhood is a part of your life, it doesn’t have to be your whole life.

LJN: Baby/child gear tips for travel/touring/gigging:

NX: I haven’t toured with baba yet. But I just know my most precious “gear” is my beloved Nanny (she’s actually Mother-in-Chief!)

LJN: Best general travel/gigging/tour-with-child advice:

NX: Travel with help if you absolutely have to take your child with you on the road. I’ll cross this bridge when I get there. For now, if I’m gone for a short period of time, I leave her at home. I’ve been lucky to travel to cities where I have family so they help with the baby.

LJN:What has surprised you about becoming a parent and remaining engaged with your professional activities and ambitions?

NX: Time. I don’t own my time anymore. I have had to offer myself so much more grace in accepting that my level of professional output cannot be the same as pre-baby. I’m still struggling with this but hoping that as the baby gets older, I’ll get some of my time back. I focus more on quality of output now rather than quantity.

LJN: What boundaries have you set for yourself as a mother in jazz (could be related to travel/touring, riders, personal parameters, child care decisions, etc.)?

NX: My daughter comes first. Privacy. I’ve always been a private person, but even more so now. I can be all these things and still thrive, just not all at equal optimum simultaneously and that’s okay. 

LINK: Nomfundo Xaluva has written articles in “The Conversation” about Miriam Makeba and Sibongile Khumalo

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