Nkulee Dube: Feeling Irie in Northern California
Words and photos by Lee Abel
San Francisco, CA – South Africa-based Nkulee Dube delighted Californians in Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Berkeley during July, on what was her first U.S. tour. She was ably supported by her own wonderful band. Many who came to see the 26-year-old singer/songwriter were curious about the great Lucky Dube’s daughter. She did not disappoint.
Nkulee possess a strong voice with a natural beautiful melodic tone. She has managed to fuse ethno-soul and jazz with ethno-ragga in a true African stylee. She’s charismatic and joyous, with a command of the stage far beyond her age and experience. Like her father, Nkulee danced with members of the band. But, unlike Lucky, she also invited the audience on stage to show off their own moves.
Most of the songs she performed were originals, including these two that you can watch on YouTube right now – Give it to Me and Who Dem. She also paid tribute to her legendary father at each show, crafting his songs to her own style, including some rap-like chanting. Feel Irie had the audience singing along, arms waving, totally in the spirit. And, to take the inspiration back even further, she delivered a great version of Peter Tosh’s Legalize It.
At the Berkeley show, manager Mark Miller came on stage at midnight and initiated the singing of Happy Birthday to Nkulee. She was clearly moved, and became even more tearful when her talented backup singers sang to her during their solos. It was fitting that her encore was Lucky’s Ding Ding Licky Licky Bong: Tears can not bring you joy / But joy can bring you tears / Even though I cry today / I will not hide it Its for a different reason / Joy.
We look forward to watching as Nkulee’s career takes off like a rocket! Even without a famous father, she deserves it. She’s that good.