Bongeziwe Mabandla tells us his about his uniquely South African life story and road to fame

2018-07-25 15:27
Bongeziwe Mabandla

Johannesburg - On Sunday, 5 August Bongeziwe Mabandla will take the stage at the Liefde by Die Dam Concert which is taking place at Emmarentia Dam in Gauteng. 

This festival – which is named after Valiant Swart's famous hit song with the same name – will also feature Afrikaans stars like Die Heuwels Fantasties, Karlien van Jaarsveld, Francois van Coke, Koos Kombuis and many others.

What makes Bongeziwe stand out of this Afrikaans heavy line-up is more than just his afro-folk sound, it’s the unique path he took to get there. 

In an enthralling interview the hardworking musician told Channel24 all about that sometimes Rocky path to success; explained how he started out and so much more. 


Tell us about your birth town Tsolo and about the music that this town made and taught you. Were there specific people/musicians that inspired you as a child?

Growing up I liked R&B like most kids my age. I used to listen to the radio mostly and make our own tapes from songs playing on the radio. Growing up in a rural setting really encourages you to be creative. There were a lot of games that we played that needed imagination. 

When did you first realise that things have a chance at working out to make music your career?

I had meet Paulo from 340ml and we recorded Isizathu together after a few weeks he told me that he wanted to sign me. I think that was when I was like I'm becoming a singer. I had wanted to but was not sure if I had what it took; music happened at the last min for me while I was studying drama and I didn't know much about music I relied on instinct and feeling mainly. 


How did it feel to release your first album Umlilo?

I can't even explain it. These were things I had only dreamed about. I remember the first time I saw the c.d it felt like I was living someone else's life; it took me back to rural Eastern Cape and the transformation that was happening in my life. 

The period between Umlilo and your new album Mangaliso was not easy for you.  Can you share with us a bit more about this process between albums?

I had thought that Umlilo had secured a place for in the industry but it was not so, I struggled to get a new deal. I was always looking for someone to believe in me all over again and to release my music. That tough period would end up being over 5 years. But I learnt a lot about myself and what life is all about until I found the people that would eventually work with me again. I met my manager Sevi from Black Major and things started to change. 

Bongeziwe Mabandla

How did you, Tiago Correia-Pauloand Mike Wright first meet and decided to perform together?

Tiago Correia-Paulo produced the album and he is also in 340ml. I met him while I was working on my first album. He had worked with Mike before and suggested we start working on the live element of the album. 


Since the release of your first album you have played many impressive shows and festivals overseas. Which country was your favourite to perform in?

Australia, France and Canada are my favourite places to play. 

Is there a difference between SA and international stages and audiences?

I think audiences in different places are looking for different things. I love playing in South Africa because they are very hard to impress. Some (other) places want to hear the very bare emotion of the song or an artist.  While other places and their people want intelligent music and there’s people who just want to dance. 


Date: Sunday 5 August 2016
Time: 10:00 – 18:00
Venue: Emmarentia Dam, Johannesburg

Ticket prices: Adults R165 / Kids 12 years and younger: R75 / Kids under 3: Free entry. 

Special ticket offer: VIP tickets for R595 including VIP entrance, special view, free drinks and snacks. 

Tickets are available at Computicket.

(Photo: Gallo Images)

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