Linda Sikhakhane drops his 3rd album titled Isambulo

July 3, 2022

We may be physically fit, with pockets eating cheesecake and a house in Singapore, but if we do not have inner wholeness, we’re no closer to achieving the ultimate goal. 

Umlazi-born saxophonist and composer Linda Sikhakhane revisits his song Inner Freedom from his debut album 2 Sides, 1 Mirror, to reiterate the significance of inner freedom. 

“What I talk about when I talk about inner freedom is the spiritual part of freedom. In revisiting this song, I think about the 3 dimensions of freedom – the spiritual, the psychological and the physical. Based on our history with apartheid and everything, it seems like the word freedom comes up a lot, but somehow it collapses because the only freedom we have achieved is physical, but the spiritual and psychological have been disturbed and this forms a bad collapse.

The reason I decided to go back to this song is because it re-emerged in my spirit based on the project I have been working on.”

Linda has completed his 3rd project titled Isambulo (meaning revelation), which will be released on the 24th of June under the record company Ropeadope Records. Linda has been releasing music independently and has finally found a place to call home. 

The first two singles Linda released from Isambulo are Unongoma and Inner Freedom.

Linda Sikhakhane on his independent journey

Linda explains how this relationship started. “It was a connection that was initiated by a writer, Phillip Freeman, who writes for a lot of publications in the US. For the past few years, he has had an interest in SA jazz. I sent him the music, letting him know that I wanted to split up to a global market and asking labels who would be into the kind of music I am doing, and he connected me with Ropeadope.

This project comes at a time when the world is facing so much uncertainty; my main question was how do we find revelation in all of these uncertainties so that we can move forward? The song came strongly because I was thinking about how we can access our inner freedom whilst there is so much external noise.”

Following Linda’s victorious win at the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship competition, he used the prize money to fund his degree programme at The New School in New York. Here, he was mentored by greats such as Billy Harper, Reggie Workman, David Schnitter and Charles Tolliver.

The New School in New York

Moving to a country far from home is often portrayed for its positive aspects and not for the challenges that people may face in order to achieve their dreams. Linda points out some of the drawbacks of living in a foreign country. 

“I think one challenge is being away from home. The fact that you are moving away from where my umbilical cord was. There is something about being away from home that is disturbing for me because it’s like you are disconnecting from a greater part of yourself. However, I am a natural improviser. I don’t dwell on the challenges. Even the music that I play, improvisation is very important.”

From the hot era of Hugh Masikela, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, and many others, to the era of Linda Sikhakhane, shaping the future of jazz, this genre has evolved over the years. 

Linda said, “Based on my experience, sound has changed. Music is always a reflection of a particular time.”

Linda Sikhakhane
Linda Sikhakhane on Inner Freedom Revisted

The inspirations behind Linda Sikhakhane

Even for someone as adept as Linda, there will always be someone they look up to – someone who influences them to push beyond their self-set limits, someone who inspires them. Nduduzo Makhathini is one of these inspirations and their close working relationship authenticates this fact. 

Linda added, “Mbuso Khoza – I find him to be very important in helping our generation understand culture.I believe that in order for us to play this music, we must first understand where we come from in order to pronounce it in a way that is more comfortable for us, because it should be an extension of ourselves rather than an imitation of what jazz is in America. Mbuso is helping us find this parallelism between these two worlds and how the jazz sensibility has always been embedded in our music in SA.

“I also look up to Black Coffee and how he has been very central in cultural exchange through his music over the years. He is a very inspiring being.”

The album is out and can be streamed on all digital platforms now. 

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