Steeped in generations of ancestral respect and with a will to break the cycle of the past, enter one Cofield Mundi, a name and voice fast becoming as distinct in respected music circles as that of Sarah Mclachlan, Natalie Merchant or Sharleen Spiteri.
A singer/songwriter capable of changing perceptions in delivering an album's worth of genuine conviction. A collection of songs loaded with substance. Full to overflowing with insight and wisdom of roads travelled, life lived and emotions laid bare, Ceremony is ultimately a masterpiece. The very canvas that welcomed a palette filled with colour and character delivering with it 12 moments of art, pure and simple.
" The House Of The Rising Sun" was Cofield's first rendition at the tender age of 3. However, it was at 11, influenced by ex-Ella Mental guitarist and founder member Tim Parr that Cofield began to write her own songs. Mundi's mother was Tim's guitar teacher. At 16 Cofield sang for cult Shifty band The Aeroplanes but that was interrupted by her finishing school and venturing off to study in London. She was later offered a job in Boston, Massachusetts where she spent her recreational time fronting a band called My My My.
Having proved yet again that here was a personality not afraid to attempt new things at the drop of a hat Cofield returned to South Africa to tackle the next exciting chapter. The real drive and impetus to record the songs she had written came when Cofield was asked to sing at a friend's wedding. In true Mundi style, this wasn't your common or garden-variety affair. Rather it was for the marriage of the one time president of Botswana, Seretse Khama's son. The song was written especially for the event and again as Cofield only can, "Lay My Head Down", brought the house down. Mundi called up the much-respected producer Neil Snyman who agreed to work with her and together they shopped the tracks around Johannesburg and London.
Before long a leading Dutch label, Gold Circle, were keen to sign her as were Universal Music SA, but she declined as she felt that they lacked equal vision. It took a performance at one of London's more notorious nightspots, The Twelve Bar, for an American Joe Massot, director of Pilaar, the now late creator of "Wonderwall", as well as the man responsible for all of The Beatles cinematography to notice her. "He told me I reminded him of Eva Cassidy and wanted me to sing a rendition of "Autumn Leaves" as well as two of my own songs for the soundtrack of his son's upcoming movie. The next day we were in Studio Two at Abbey Road," Mundi recalls.
They recorded three songs for the film that day and before Cofield left, she was offered the opportunity to record an entire album's worth of material. Äashish Kahn and ironically George Harrison were all set to play on the record but Cofield wasn't entirely happy with the arrangement offered to her. "A week later I was back home in SA, and declined Joe's offer over the phone. Call me crazy, but I did what my heart told me to."
Benjy Mudie, founder and MD of Fresh Music is the one whom Cofield has finally entrusted her vision to and today they have some of the finest people in their respected areas of expertise working in making Cofield Mundi a name the planet looks to for life altering, mood swinging music. "Where I am today is fate at play," she concludes. "I have put faith in people. Thankfully I never lack confidence in them, because people cross your path for a reason."
In London sits John Brice (Monaco, Peshay, South and Porn Shot) the one responsible for concluding the UK side of her career.
"Ceremony" is one helluva debut album, one that most artists spend a lifetime trying to achieve…from the opening starkness of "Leave the bones" it's clear to the listener that they are in for something special. Cofield's achingly heartfelt vocals sung over a wonderfully acoustic melange of guitar, violin and harmonies touch the soul. The album's first radio single "River" is a slice of jangly pop heaven with a catchy chorus that sticks in your head and promises to be a smash hit this autumn.
For those long chilly winter nights with home fires and red wine the perfect musical soundtrack is without doubt "Count me out"…a trippy spare backbeat that echoes Massive Attack, suspended grand piano topped with Co's poignant vocal, a tale of innocence lost that is earmarked as the album's second single. And Cofield can rock too as evidenced by the searing guitar crash of "Give it up" and the Delta slide acoustic countryesque blues of "Forgive me "…. lyrical tracks like "Blueboy", "Shine" and "Back to this" are miniature aural crystallisations of our lives, songs from the heart to our heart ! The dark horse however is "Trust yourself" with it's bubbling thumping baseline that bursts from the speakers and convincingly marries pop and dance music in a 'punch the air' celebration that promises to be among the year's pop anthems. Cofield Mundi's "Ceremony" is an intoxicating album filled with stunning songs that have universal appeal and is a testament to an artist whose time has thankfully come.
The music is inspired, the moment rehearsed to perfection – Cofield Mundi's Ceremony is about to begin. Forgo the formality and experience the finest in new music. Celebrate a relationship set to continue… till death do us part.
Fresh Music, June 2003