New England Conservatory’s Only Student From Africa Reflects On Finding And Preserving Her Voice

Vocalist and musician Naledi Masilo. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Singing in South African languages connects Naledi Masilo to who she is and where she comes from. Since she was a kid in Johannesburg, the vocalist dreamed of studying in the U.S. but her family didn’t have the money. When she eventually won a scholarship three years ago to attend the New England Conservatory (NEC), Masilo remembers feeling shocked during the international students’ orientation.

“They were showing a map of where everybody’s from,” she recalled, adding the presenters told the group there were about 400 students from Asia, and about 200 from Europe. Little dots covered those far away places on the map — but there was just one on the entire continent of Africa.

Masilo said she raised her hand and asked, “What? Do you mean in the whole school, or do you mean just, you know, in this classroom that we’re sitting in?”

Turns out it was the whole school.

Read the rest of the story at WBUR’s website.