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One On One With Bongeziwe Mabandla

Afro pop singer Bongeziwe Mandla is back with his second album, Mangaliso, a musical masterpiece that everyone can relate to.

When Bongeziwe Mabandla surfaced with his debut album, Umlilo, in 2012, he was hailed as the new face of Afro-Folk, effortlessly able to intertwine Xhosa lyrics with traditional music and folk stylings to create something uniquely captivating. Five years later, Bongeziwe is back with a brand new offering that promises to be a great African export to a global audience. He shares how his love for music began.

1.Tell us about your background. What sparked your love for music?

I have always loved music. I would make up my own songs, which I sang all day mimicking well-known performers. But I didn’t think I had a voice that was worth recording and it wasn’t until I started playing guitar that I couldn’t contain the singing in me any longer.  

2. How was your debut album Umililo received?

My debut album was nominated for two SAMA awards. The album allowed to me travel a lot and bring my voice to many people. It has opened a lot of doors for me and I think there would be no ‘Mangaliso’, my new album, if there was not that initial album, ‘Umlilo’.

3. Share a few career highlights since entering the music industry five years ago

I have been able to travel a lot and see so many different places such as Europe, The US, Australia, part of Asia and now I am starting to travel more in Africa. My music career has opened my mind and way of thinking. I now have more respect for the world and people because I understand just how massive and diverse it is.

4. Who do you credit for your success?

So many people… Paulo Chibanga and Sony did a lot for my career at a time when no one had heard of me. Zuluboy, Simphiwe Dana and my management (Black Major) take what I do very seriously and have made it their mission to see me succeed. Tiago, the producer of my album, has also had a great influence on me and faith Universal has in me has been so refreshing and inspiring. But, it’s mainly been my mother who has carried my dreams with me.  

5. What inspired your new album, Mangaliso?

The album is an idea that life can be magical and filled with meaning. I had been through so much when I started writing the album. I needed a breakthrough and I got it, and that’s what Mangaliso is about. It’s about finally finding what you’ve always wanted or being who you’ve always wanted to be.  

6. Who should listen to the kind of music you make?

I honestly think it’s for anyone who wants to listen to songs about hope. I wrote the songs with the listener in mind. I wanted to give them a message that was positive and hope driven.

7. What are your goals for your career in the music industry?

I’m not sure why our music isn’t always heard the world over, so I want to tour more. I want to show the world that South Africa has art, talent and drive and I want South Africa to know about my work and see me as an inspiration, as well.

8. Which artists would you like to work with, both in Africa and abroad and why?

I want to work with Petite Noir, Thandiswa, Simphiwe Dana and Madala Kunene. I love these legends! 

9. What is your advice to aspiring artists?

Love and respect what you do and create work that you feel is timeless and artistic. The rest will follow.

Image: Supplied

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