A person within earshot of music by Joy Denalane might think he or she is listening to neo-soul, whereas another might have heard an African folk song, and yet a third person could be listening to a hip-hop soul joint. Born and raised in Berlin as the daughter of a German mother and a South African father, Joy Maureen Denalane has sung lyrics in various languages, including English and German as well as the South African languages Xhosa and Shangan. Although her stylish vocals and sounds are clearly influenced by artists ranging from Letta Mbulu to Lauryn Hill, her inspiration to do music, period, originates from hip-hop, especially that of female firebrands Salt-N-Pepa and Roxanne Shanté, which began seeping into Germany in the late '80s. During this period, at the age of 16, Denalane moved out of her parent's home to involve herself in Germany's music scene. She was sure she could not rap, and so without any lessons or musical background, she picked up the microphone and trained herself to sing.