Submerging audiences in spirited and deeply rooted encounters is how South African vocalist, composer and teaching artist, Naledi Masilo, is making her mark in the global music industry. While cultivating her love for the arts through backyard jam sessions and endless artistic curiosity, Naledi’s voice roots itself in an exploration of the jazz tradition, storytelling and influences of her African heritage.
In her early career, Naledi has many accolades to her name. She received two degrees in International Relations and Sociology from the University of Cape Town and Jazz performance from The New England Conservatory of Music. As a student, she was selected as part of the premier South African Standard Bank National Youth Band and won prestigious awards including the top three for the International Ella Fitzgerald Vocal Competition and National Dolo Coker Jazz Competition and Glenn Miller Scholarship Competition. Along her journey, Naledi has garnered mentorship from greats such as Dominique Eade, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Jason Moran.
Naledi has had artistic residency at the Presidential Kennedy Center and was selected as a resident for the Banff International Jazz and Creative Music workshop in Calgary, Canada. Other venues she has performed at include Jazz @ Lincoln Center (New York, NY), The Orbit(Johannesburg, South Africa), Artscape Theater(Cape Town, South Africa), The Grandwest Arena(Cape Town, South Africa), Jordan Hall(Boston, MA), Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum(Boston, MA), Trustees Theater (Savannah, GA) and Museum of African American Art(Los Angeles, CA). She is also known in the Boston jazz scene for working on complex instrumental music with the Makhanda Big Band and Bill Lowe’s Signifyin’ Natives. More recently, Naledi’s multi-faceted artistic and cultural embodiment lead to her musical theater debut touring Somi Kakoma’s Dreaming Zenzile; where she collaborated with African artists exploring the life and works of Miriam Makeba, a pertinent influence in Naledi’s musicality. Her role as the daughter of Miriam Makeba was well received while touring at The Repertory theater of St Louis(MI), McCarter Theater(NJ), Paramount Center(MA), New York Theater Workshop(NY).
Naledi believes that music has been gifted to the world as a tool to move lives and urge hearts to take action, and teaching has been a way she uses this tool to empower future generations. She specializes in teaching music history and repertoire from the South African Jazz and traditional music cannon. She has created and conducted workshops and masterclasses for over 15000 students in the USA. Most recently she collaborated with Carnegie Hall and the Savannah Music Festival to design curriculum on Township Jazz for all the Schools in Savannah and Chatham County K-2 students. Miss Masilo’s passionate work as an educator and advocate for women and girls led to her founding the “Trailblazers” program at the Savannah Music Festival, as well as her own foundation “The Dreaming Girls Arts Foundation” which have immensely impacted women and girls in the United States and South Africa.
Naledi’s band combines virtuosic performances by young artists from all over the world with original music and storied covers; each performance prioritizing a full-bodied sonic journey. Her highly anticipated debut EP is set to release in Spring/Summer ‘23 and will be touring the music in the USA and South Africa.