Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Pamela Nothando Bhulu and her four siblings have always had strong ties to Botswana, the land of their father.
After ‘coming home’ to BW to complete her secondary schooling, Bhulu then jetted off to Germany to further her studies.
It is in Europe that she has thrived, making her name as Nomina, a music star very much on the rise.
Voice Entertainment spoke to the vibrant artist on a rare recent return to Bots for a media engagement tour…
Thank you for slotting us into your hectic media tour. Let’s start with an introduction of who Nomina is?
Thank you so much for having me, it’s really good to be back home after a while.
My real name is Pamela Nothando Bhulu, but everyone calls me by my stage name Nomina.
I was born in Plumtree, Zimbabwe where my mother comes from and that’s where I grew up until Junior School when my family moved to Botswana, which is my father’s home country.
I lost both my parents at an early age so that kind of darkened my life a bit.
I remember having to work numerous menial jobs to support my siblings, it was really tough!
So sorry to hear that. So when were you introduced to music?
Music has always been a part of my life.
My mother thoroughly enjoyed singing so our house was always alive with music playing all day.
I developed that love for music after she passed and during that time, music was what connected me to her.
I sang in the school choir but I wasn’t any good at singing, so when I arrived in Germany, I decided to get a vocal coach.
Tell us about that transition, from hustling in the streets of Gaborone, to now living in Germany.
After completing my Form Five at Ledumang Senior, a friend of mine told me about an opportunity to study in Germany.
I was doing a Business related course, however, that love for music was still there, which is when I got that vocal coach.
I participated in a number of theatre plays, and then in 2019, I felt I was ready for the music industry.
My debut single ‘Amadlozi’ was a hit on international tv and radio stations such as MTV and MTV Base.
Since then, I have released other hits including ‘Fetish Daddy’ and ‘Uthando lo’.
It must have been tricky breaking out as a musician in another continent?
It was extremely difficult! Mind you, I wasn’t that much of a singer, but I loved it so much.
I auditioned for so many plays and got rejected before I was cast on prominent musicals such as ‘We will rock you’ and the ‘Lion King’.
It really wasn’t simple at all.
What about adapting to a completely different culture?
That was another thing!
The way of life there was so different and I of course felt so different from everyone else so it was a bit scary in the beginning.
However, I eventually learnt their way of life and adapted to how things are done.
I made sure not to lose myself and it has worked for me because that’s what makes me stand out as an artist there, my African heritage.
How do you define your style of music and how has the European market responded to it?
My musical spectrum is a mix of R&B and Pop fused with African sounds, a bit of Jazz, Spanish and Electro elements.
I would say the response has been really positive especially because it’s a different sound compared to what they are used to.
The African music culture such as Amapiano and Afrobeats have quickly become Pop culture there, there isn’t a club that does not play these genres.
What about your fanbase, where is it mostly concentrated?
I have an international fanbase from places like the USA, Australia and especially here in Africa.
I actually visited a number of radio stations in South Africa before coming here and I was humbled by the love and support.
You seem to be doing really well! What advice have you got for local artists who also wish to export their music?
The international markets are hungry for African content, not only music content, so take advantage and get yourself out there.
Also, believe in yourself and your dreams, don’t focus on your dark past or where you come from, but believe in the possibility of a brighter future.
What are you currently working on?
I have an upcoming song with Sean Kingston and Sean Paul called ‘Closer to You’.
Also, I will be in Leeds, UK this weekend for the Botswana Independence Day Celebrations alongside ATI, Loungo Andre Pitse and other talented Batswana.
Five things people don’t know about you?
1. I like dancing
2. I am good at keeping secrets
3. I play netball
4. I keep my relationships very private
5. I can be shy sometimes