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The Joy: Debut Album Announcement

South African vocal group The Joy have announced details of the release of their self-titled debut album which is out on Transgressive Records on Friday June 21st, 2024. Recorded live, in real time, at the renowned Church Studios in Crouch End, London and featuring no instruments or overdubs, the 11-track album is a thing of transcendental beauty thanks to the astonishing vocal talent of the 5 group members – Pastor (Ntokozo Bright Magcaba), Duzie (Melokuhle Mkhungo), Guduza (Sphelele Hlophe), Sthombe (Phelelani Sithole) and Marcus (Sanele Ngcobo) – who have been together since meeting at school.

The Joy

They have also today shared the video for the track “You Complete Me” which was filmed by Up The Game (the creative team behind Liam Gallagher: Knebworth 22 and Tonight with: Arlo Parks) at the live recording of the album. Listen to  “You Complete Me” HERE 

If you’re secular, you might call it serendipity, while others might call it divine intervention – the moment that The Joy sang together for the first time. This was the day that saw five teenage boys from the South African township of Hammarsdale turn up to their school choir practice earlier than the other boys; early enough to spontaneously jam a new song into existence.

In that moment came the realization that something beyond their collective understanding seemed to happen when they alighted upon the same song. 

Growing up in a part of South Africa, where the Zulu tradition of a cappella singing is central to the cultural identity of its people and Ladysmith Black Mambazo have been worshiped 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’s harmonies hark back to yet 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 favorite group” and inviting them onto her 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. 

Making their U.K. debut TV appearances last summer when the appeared on the BBC coverage of Glastonbury and as part of Jools Holland’s 30th anniversary Later… show it was instantly apparent here was a group able to summon with their music that holy shiver you feel when you drop the needle onto Sam Cooke’s version of “Nearer To Three”, Jeff Buckley performing “Lover You Should Have Come Over” or  hear Buju Banton singing “Untold Stories”. These are the little epiphanies that feed our addiction to music.

Moments that erase the invisible membrane between artist and listener. When everything else falls away and feeling lost in music becomes the same as truly finding yourself in it.

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