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Desire Marea’s Genre-Melting Music Stirs South Africa, and the World                                     

Music can have a healing influence, but in the hands of South African artist, Desire Marea, it goes much further. Trained as a sangoma, or spiritual healer, his music is a hybrid of many influences, incorporating Zulu and English, gqom and amapiano, and addressing topics of queerness, self-expression and African ancestry and identity. Daniel Miller first heard Marea’s music around that time. As the founder of Mute — a label known for releasing works from electronic acts like Erasure, Depeche Mode and Goldfrapp — Miller quickly recognized Marea’s musical innovation. “I’d never signed an artist before without actually meeting them, but we met on Zoom over a few occasions and really hit it off,” Miller said on a phone call from his home in the United Kingdom. He was delighted that Marea “didn’t sound like anything else on Mute at all, anywhere close.”