Three years after her groundbreaking debut album, Amanda Black reclaims a dream temporarily deferred. Her defiant return is an Afro-soul tour de force marked by uplifting tones and a renewed faith in love. “Power is bold, brave and honest”, she tells Apple Music. “It's a collection of sounds I think can heal a lot of souls.” On her 18-track offering, the singer has facilitated her own healing—and it shows in her style. While her transcendent voice is a familiar comfort, her newfound maturity shows through her carefully refined songwriting. “Famous”, for instance, begins with the lyrics “Last night I had a dream about you”, neatly tying into the previous song “Bayile”, which incorporates the popular lullaby “Thula Baba”. Amanda walked us through more moments of her album and her creative journey. “I was able to say what I hadn’t been able to.” “In the intro, there’s the line ‘The rise of any phoenix is a revolution waiting to be set alight.’ When Kush [Mahleka] read that to me I was like ‘That! That is exactly what I wanted’. It literally encapsulated what I wanted to portray in the whole album—it’s the thread that goes through each and every song. When I made the chorus for “Power”, that’s when I decided what I wanted to call the album, because it best describes my journey. I wanted to get back the power I felt was taken from me, so for me the album was a healing process. There are songs where I was able to say what I hadn’t been able to during the past few years. Each and every song was a moment for me because there's so much I hadn’t said and dealt with—to myself and by myself. The songs took me somewhere and had me tapping into emotions I'd buried underneath. I had to become vulnerable and open up to myself and it helped me get on the path of actually healing. I think this album is going to do that for a lot of people because it’s done that for me, and it's doing that for me right now.” “I don’t even know if it’s me speaking.” “I truly believe music is my calling and not just a career—music is a calling to me. I was going through a loss of passion so I was asking ‘How do you remain loving music?’ What I do is a gift and is highly spiritual. If the spirit is very heavy or surrounded by darkness, it’s very hard for us to do what we’re made to do. Everything around music was so tainted for me and what I was going through made me doubt the calling I thought I had. What kept me going more than anything was my love for music. Music makes me me so I fought—with myself mostly—‘cause if I’m not doing music, who am I? Back then it was just about me singing and talking to myself in my quiet space—now it’s about telling stories and turning them into songs. My songwriting skills have grown because I do it more now. It’s not even deliberate, I freestyle most of the time, ‘cause I find the words within my spirit. It’s things I connect with so I don’t overthink it, and I don’t even know if it’s me speaking sometimes. I compiled the tracklist purely on feeling and how the songs and messaging flowed into each other. It frees me when I tap into that part of me, when I’m in that space and I’m real.” “I put myself in her shoes.” “When I’m singing I refer to someone else most of the time and the messaging goes to them, but I’m also talking to myself. Like with “Thandwa Ndim”, I had no idea I related to it as much as I did. I know people close to me who’ve gone through abuse and I realised it’s also my story. It’s not just about romantic relationships - it’s familial relationships, friendships and work relationships. We always think about physical abuse because that's the one that registers. It’s about psychological, emotional and financial abuse too. I wanted to explore the mind because I've heard the question before; “Why don’t you just leave him?” You can remove someone physically but most of the time they go back. I put myself in her shoes, when she's feeling like, “Who’s gonna love me if I leave this man?” I visualised a group of women—family, friends, strangers, a community of us surrounding the women in these situations and saying “We will love you”. But there are moments when you don’t like yourself and feel out of control. I realised that the only way is self love—looking in the mirror and saying, “I am enough and I am going to love me.” “I’ve definitely grown in understanding.” “I can’t say I've figured people out but I’ve definitely grown in understanding. It's a lot more about me than anybody else—how I treat and relate to people. All I really work on learning is how I manoeuvre through the world. I’ve met all sorts of characters and personalities. It’s all a puzzle and I haven’t met anyone who's completely figured it out but somehow we're all connected. That thread between all of us is why I made “Afrika”. Adekunle Gold jumped on last minute and I was so honoured he agreed to be part of this album. The song is about being proudly African. When I did the chorus I literally envisioned hair. We have so many ethnicities and hairdos across Africa and even with these different pieces of ourselves, there’s a thread between all of us. Despite the different language, I wanted people to feel that same sentiment when they hear the song. We need to have these conversations and interrogate such things because I see Africa being as one, and I see it happening through music.” “I'm hungry for life and I’m hungry for love.” “I've evolved from my 23-year-old self into a 26-year-old who's experienced more and seen the growth inside of me. For a little time, music felt like a burden in the sense that the passion and my childlike love for it had to sort of take a backseat. I wasn’t just fighting for my career—I was literally fighting for my relationship with music. On “Mangwane” I’m talking about that journey—the rise and fall. It’s my interpretation of it where I basically continue the story of constantly knocking on doors. You knock on thousands of doors and one day that one-out-of-a-thousand door will open for you. So I'm hungry for life and hungry for love, and hungry for the opportunities I will create. I elaborate on that on “Hamba,” which is taken from the Margaret Singana track “Hamba Bhekile”. It’s just me saying to the universe, ‘I’m waiting for my great fortune and I know it’s gonna come eventually.’ “Hamba” is a very uplifting song in the sense that it motivates patience and motivates putting your head down while waiting for your big break or preparing for what you’re dreaming of.”

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