Vocalist Khanyisa Twani was born to a Christian minister and a teacher in Cape Town a few years before the fall of apartheid. During her formative years her family were subject to horrific acts of discrimination. The relationship between her black father and white mother provoked much animosity. On one occasion her father was arrested and beaten under suspicion of being a supporter of the ANC. When he was unable to make a confession, Twani’s grandparents were also apprehended and threatened.
Twani’s family emigrated from South Africa to the UK when she was five years old, in search of a better life and education for Khanyisa and her brothers. It was here that Twani developed a remarkable, age-defying sense of soul, channelled through her extraordinary singing voice. Her talents were honed with tenures in gospel choirs and through collaborations with the UK’s foremost jazz musicians, including the pianist James Pearson, artistic director of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.
Whilst making a name for herself by performing her own songs on the London circuit, Twani met best-selling writer and jazz Hammond Organist Ben Cormack and the pair formed a writing partnership. They were joined by Robin Porter, recipient of the George Murphy Trophy for Jazz Saxophone, and V-Drum World Championship finalist Conor Bailey to complete work on Dojo’s acclaimed debut EP, Descry.
Dojo’s music is a celebration of the rich heritage of African, English, and American music. Lyrical content featuring up-to-the-minute political and philosophical observations comes from a combined Christian, Buddhist, and Atheist viewpoint. Explorations of joy, despair, and human nature are underpinned by an overriding theme of harmony and spiritual connection between all living things.
Dojo’s live shows, which showcase the band’s heightened sense of showmanship and their remarkable musicianship, have received widespread critical acclaim. Within weeks of forming Dojo were booked to support such luminaries as Groundation and Seun Kuti & Egypt 80.