Born in Alice, South Africa, and raised in nearby Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, Nakhane Touré (who performs as Nakhane) first came out as gay at the age of 19. At the time, his local community — comprised mostly of fundamentalist Christians — responded by sending him to conversion therapy, an experience that left his faith in question. “The older I got, we became very staunch, more conservative,” he says. “Like, if you have Jesus in your heart, this is a temptation that you can learn to live without.”
A umXhosa, the second largest ethnic group in South Africa, Nakhane came from a musical family: his aunt, who raised him, and her sisters sang in choirs. “My first musical memories are voices in a room singing Mozart and South African choral pieces,” he says. “And then when we moved to Port Elizabeth my mum introduced me to Marvin Gaye and the O’Jays. I didn’t really know current pop music until I was in high school.” The rising talent recalls singing as something that just came naturally to him. “With songwriting there was a lightbulb moment where I thought ‘Yeah, I can do this!’ But with singing it was like learning how to speak, you don’t realize you’re learning and then you suddenly can.”
After relocating to London to re-focus on his burgeoning music career, the powerhouse singer arrived fully formed with the release of his debut LP You Will Not Die in 2018 — an introspective and cutting take on his life experiences, helmed with producer Ben Christopher (Bat For Lashes) and featuring a collaboration with ANOHNI ("New Brighton"). A tour de force, the set nods both to the anxiety and depression that often accompanies coming out, as well the joy and validation that self-acceptance brings. Survival, above all else, is the rallying cry.