I used to sing in a church mass choir almost ten years ago. It was a way for me to suppress my anxiety. Music, especially in spiritual settings, became my way of dealing with some of my internalised traumas and it truly allowed me to feel something close to an out-of-body experience. Nothing could compare to the feeling of unity and cohesion one gets from collaboration with other musicians.
Towards the end of my singing stint I found myself writing more than I had ever done before, and I started to get this thing inside like I wanted to be a writer or something. Of course at the time I imagined a nomadic lifestyle filled with loose silky robes, flower headdresses, incense – the whole cliché. I abandoned singing and music because writing helped me to deal with those same anxieties that music had helped me with. To this day writing still does this for me, and I even work in schools with young people trying to help them realise the importance of being honest with oneself and one’s desires through the written and spoken word.
But ironically enough this was something I was avoiding in terms of music. I knew I loved music and that singing nourished me, yet I felt too embarrassed to go back to it or even attempt it in my own space. I even spent evenings jamming with friends in numerous warehouses and venues but I’d hide behind my words and insist that I was not a singer, until I met a young producer by the name of TONE. On the few occasions we worked together he pushed me to work on expanding my voice beyond speaking poetry. In one session I had with him I felt a huge boost to my confidence in a way that reminded me that not singing felt like missing a limb.
Prayer started as a poem that didn’t have a singular meaning – it was more a collection of thoughts. I have been writing poetry this way for a few years now as a daily activity of mentally checking in with myself. Fundamentally, these writings do not begin as poems – just me trying to suppress the ten million mini panic attacks I get every day. In the end these thoughts end up as first or second draft poems on my Tumblr page as part of a series I started called quick writes. This track is a result of that process. I am currently interested in how ancestry and its patterns impact people’s daily lives. Prayer isn’t entirely about my own mother, but it is influenced by the many hurdles we have tripped or jumped over in the years we have been mother and daughter. It is also a song for those who have found it difficult to make sense of the relationships they’ve had with their mothers.
Last Christmas I travelled to South Africa and Zimbabwe for the first time in the 13 years since I left for the UK. In South Africa, a country of such diverse talent, I was bound to meet some interesting people doing interesting things. The vocals on the chorus are by the young man who produced the track – he goes by the name Johnny Basz, or KR. I met him in Pretoria through some friends of the family I was staying with and we spent a night recording some tracks. It was freeing. It’s something I look forward to doing more of with other producers and musicians.
Listen to Prayer by MA.MOYO below, and check out her soundcloud here.
Artwork kindly provided by the writer.