The Joy

The Joy: CD


Release Date: 21 June, 2024

The Joy, a five-piece acapella group from South Africa is releasing their self-titled debut album which was recorded and captured on film in one take at Paul Epworth’s Church Studios in late 2023.

In Hammarsdale in South Africa, where the Zulu tradition of a cappella singing is central to the cultural identity of its people, you’ll have to transcend the sum of your constituent parts to truly command attention. But singing together as teenage boys for the first time, Pastor (Ntokozo Bright Magcaba), Duzie (Melokuhle Mkhungo), Guduza (Sphelele Hlophe), Sthombe (Phelelani Sithole) and Marcus (Sanele Ngcobo) have no reason to pause and consider that.

In Hammarsdale, Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been worshipped for decades – their Grammy-winning success an authentication of the fact that the magic of isicathamiya music isn’t restricted to the townships where it flourished. The Joy grew up on Ladysmith Black Mambazo, but their harmonies harks back to another vocal tradition. Mbube means ‘lion’, which gives some indication of the elemental power its practitioners summon when bursting into song. This seems to be the lineage into which lead vocalist Duzie seems to be tapping when he cuts loose from the intonations of his co-travellers, as if compelled to commune with the ancestral spirits whose music he invokes.

In the right hands, these songs can open the gates of heaven, so perhaps it’s not so surprising that, for The Joy, they open up the gates to places they’d never imagined they’d see with their own eyes. First prize in a municipality-wide singing contest earns them something in the region of $1,300, which they divided in five and sent straight to their families, where it’s most needed. Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson pronounce themselves fans, the latter calling them “my favourite group” and inviting them onto her US talk show. Sessions produced by longtime champion Two Inch Punch amass millions of streams either in spite or because of the fact that they correspond to nothing else competing for your attention in the modern musical firmament. And, displaying the brotherhood that they say bonded them together from that very first session, they insist that the music speaks to them all with one voice, telling them what to do before they themselves are even aware of it.

The Joy sing about the big stuff – the power of dreams, religious faith – but actually when they address the harrowing specifics of day to day life, sometimes these are the moments that assume even greater emotional magnitude.


1. Uhlenge
2. Amaqatha Amancane
3. Mama ka Nomthandazo
4. Bayang'khethela
5. Mama uleli Kanjani
6. Ngiphuphe Ngilele
7. Mashaya kancane
8. uBaba Uthwelekanzima
9. You Complete Me
10. Amandla ka Moya
11. Jesu

CD Album