South African Township Girlhood: Nonhlanhla Kheswa, who most often goes by “Kheswa” as her surname only, grew up in two tough townships in Johannesburg – Alexandra u0026 Soweto. Many primary school teachers are responsible for instilling in her a love for storytelling and singing. Kheswa attended Soweto’s Morris Isaacson high school, where, 20 years before Kheswa was there, more precisely, from June 13th to June 16th 1976, the Soweto Uprising, which was a pivotal turning point in South African politics, was initiated by Teboho Mahinini and others. Kheswa was hired by South African television and film director Darrell Roodt (“Sarafina!”) before she left school in 1998. Kheswa was offered a part in Darrell Roodt’s Soul City. After that, Lebohang Morake, the legendary composer, arranger and producer, snatched her up to perform in Disney’s “The Lion King”. She worked in this unique Broadway production for more than five years. New York, Just Like She Pictured it – With the Clef to the City: New York City would be an ideal place for Kheswa to explore vocal performance. She draws from both her South African and Zulu heritages, as well as the variety of jazz, world music, and hip-hop that shaped her new life. Kheswa made a name for herself as a Wyclef Jean’s regular member, and earned a living, while exploring the New York jazz scene, and Brooklyn’s diverse, cross-pollinating youth culture. Kheswa, who was nourished by this ethos, has grown to be a musical polymath with a strong penchant of surprise. Jazz is sometimes called “the sound that surprises”. Peter Brook and “The Empty Space”. Peter Brook, British theatre director and later founder of Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, was a long-serving artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Festival. He also founded the Theatre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. Kheswa met Brook at an audition at New York University in 2011. His new musical adaptation of Mothobi Mutloatse’s stage play, “The Suit”, based on Can Themba’s short story. Kheswa plays Matilda, a young woman from a township who wants to escape the apartheid-era South African pressures. She has performed Brook’s The Suit in Paris and New York, as well as in Milan, Naples, Shanghai (The Brooklyn Academy of Music), April 23-May 18, 2014 Kheswa She will perform the role for another 100 performances throughout the remainder of 2013 as well as the summer 2014 at prestigious venues in Japan, Singapore, and back in the United States.

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