Zoe Modiga, South African quintessential artist

Zoë Modiga born and raised in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, is the quintessential artist who represents the
present and future of South African music. Drawing from human experiences, identity and storytelling,
she creates a distinct sound to communicate a modern, evolving African story without losing its essence.

As a lively, transcendent performer with a background in classical and jazz training, she is known to
enchant audiences into another world while having an evocative individualism in fashion and imagery.

Zoë is an independent artist, releasing under her label Yelloëwax Pty Ltd. She is celebrated with awards
such as the Mbokodo Award – an event to recognise women who have shown leadership, fostered growth
and made efforts to strengthen the arts (2018), Mzansi Jazz Awards for: Best Jazz Contemporary Album,
Best Newcomer in Jazz and Best Jazz Song (2018) and SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition (2015).
Zoë’s debut album was nominated for Best Jazz Album and Best African Artist for the 24th South African
Music Awards 2018.

She saw the release of her highly anticipated sophomore album ‘Inganekwane’ in June (2020) which hit
the top 10 on the Apple Music SA Charts and #1 on the Apple Music SA World Charts, the rave reviews
cementing her place as an artists of excellence both at home in South Africa and across the globe. Her
album cover also won Dopest Album Cover of 2020 by African Design League. She has been nominated
for Female Artist of the Year by VN Streaming and won Best Engineered Album for “Inganekwane” at the
SAMAS (2021).

Despite the global pandemic she has been able to spearhead virtual performances throughout the year,
collaborating with the likes of the Credo Mutwa Foundation, Redbull, PUMA and Goethe Institute to name
a few.

The impact of Zoë’s messages has materialised with her being the cover girl for renowned British-based
publication, Songlines UK (2020) and a proudly South African publication, Botaki Youth Magazine :
Women’s Edition (2020).

Zoë has performed at celebrated festivals at home in South Africa such as the The Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Standard Bank Joy of Jazz, Durban Jazz Festival, Oppikoppi, Rocking the Daisies, Afropunk, Redbull Music Festival, Hugh Masekela Heritage Festival, Joburg Film Festival, Fete De La Musique, Blooming Sounds, Mzansi Fela, Basha Uhuru Festival, and many more.

Internationally, she has played at the MTN Bushfire Festival (Swaziland), Africadelic, toured Mozambique
and Nigeria, participated in Somi’s Africa Salon series (New York) and production, “Dreaming Zenzile”
(New York/Utah) – a celebration of Miriam Makeba’s life and frequents world tours with a music collective
called, Seba Kaapstad.

True to her pan African activism, she has partnered with allies, university students, academics, war
survivors and artists, with the support of the African Union for the Silencing the Guns campaign. This is a
pledge for peace, aiming to address the issues of war and civil unrest in Africa.
Zoë has collaborated with some of South Africa’s finest musicians including Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
Lira, Thandiswa Mazwai, Johnny Clegg, Simphiwe Dana, Abigail Kubeka, Madala Kunene, Louis Maholo,
Tshepo Tshola and many more.

An authentic, compelling artist challenging the status quo, Zoë Modiga is steadily creating an immortal
legacy of cultural impact through music, fashion and storytelling.

Q&A with Zoe

How did your career in the industry begin?

My career in the industry began at about 10/11 years old when I won win singing competitions. I was then scouted and booked for corporates and many other platforms opened up to me as a result. 

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

I have received a lot of advise over the years from incredible people music has given me the privilege to meet. Mam’ Sibongile once said to me, “you were given a gift, please take care of it” and I think of that often. My her spirit continue to teach us. 

Tell us something about yourself that nobody knows.

There’s a lot people don’t know about me and I always hope my music speaks louder than my life. One thing I can say, off the top of my head….I love open-minded people. It’s a quality I quickly admire when I see it in others.

What is your biggest career highlight so far?

Performing my songs to people that feel the heart behind it is my biggest career highlight. It is the most affirming thing to heed the call and have people connect with that.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve been working on a new sound since 2020 and I hope to share some of that sooner than later. 

How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?

I think Africa is in the world. We continue to be leaders in the world of thought, entertainment, activism, impact and influence and a quiet intrigue at the least. Our impact is one that can’t be denied, I just wish we paid attention to that more and led with that so that we can walk in the world more confidently. We have all we need to be what we wish and we exist so effortlessly. 

The constant journey of authenticity through self – awareness and actualisation is realised in Zoë’s
expression of music, fashion, lifestyle and storytelling. The quintessential artist who represents the
present and future of South African music. Drawing from human experiences, identity and storytelling,
she creates a distinct sound to communicate a modern, evolving African story without losing its essence.
Known to evoke conversation, she reminds us all that we are here to impact the times and helps us awaken the cultural renaissance treasured within us.

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