Nhlanhla’s Tribute.

It is because of those that came before us that we can, and if anything we are recipients of the rewards generated from the trailblazing efforts of our predecessors…

“I have always been a lover of MamBusi Mhlongo. I was first introduced to her music by my uncle who used to do martial arts [at the time]. I loved singing, so I told him this one time that I want to do music and he was like okay. Then he got me USB sticks uploaded with MamBusi Mhlongo’s music and he would say this is the kind of music you should listen to. So I would sit in my father’s car and just listen to her sound. Even now, as a grown up I [still] feel that my sound is more related to MamBusi’s style of doing music and writing her own music.”

Thembisa born vocalist, Nhlanhla Dube has ventured into a production ode to one of South Africa’s finest, Busi Mhlongo, a industry predecessor who has lied ground and made leeway for artist’s such as Nhlanha. The music production is titled  Isikhumbuzo- A Tribute to Busi Mhlongo and is directed by Meshack Mavuso Magabane..

“I have done a big production by Meshack Mavuso [before], on Shaka Zulu. I didn’t know then what he was dealing with [on production] because we are different characters, until now that I am the one dealing with people and things on the production side. It’s quite interesting because most the people [on the production] are people that I have close relationships with but of course, I also have people I did not know before. So it is always a challenge, you just need to understand that you are working with different energies and different personalities and be able to read how they respond to things so that you know how to tweak where necessary. But more than anything these are artists so we are in the same space so we know that this is our safe space, we explore, and we do things.”

The production is currently running as of Thursday the 29th of March up to the Sunday the 2nd of April at the South African State Theatre as part of their 2022/23 instalment of the Incubator Programme.

“I am taking a lot [from MamBusi’s story and music]. Young people can also learn that ‘home is home’ from her journey. In the sense that she was able to take her music internationally but she still stayed as MamBusi Mhlongo, the authenticity, you know. Be authentic to yourself, be truthful to yourself. I have read her bio and I have read that she tried doing jazz music and she was nominated for the Grammy’s which is awesome but still she came home. This is home and she was more celebrated here at home because people felt she was actually someone who made us feel so confident about our culture, about who we are and the way she sings and how she carried and embodied that. For me that’s what really stood out, be true to yourself, authenticity, and celebrating who you are most importantly.”

If the first night of the show is anything to go by, you expect an exceptional and spiritual offering that evokes hope and is nothing short of being a life changing experience. You can get tickets to the remaining show nights right, here.

“It is a challenge [trying to pay ode to MamBusi and not necessarily imitating her] to be quite honest. I had to bring myself in, instead of trying to be her. Someone else could just say, ‘Ah, you trying too hard’ but I think more than anything the only thing that can bring me closer to her is when I understand what actually drove her to do the music which [in this case] was her spirituality which is quite deep. I’m not saying I understand that, but she just seemed to understand how black people lived their lives, and how they should just practice their own cultures.”

The production is said to recognize MamBusi for her political influence, storytelling, feminism, and for fighting racism and tribalism…

“More than anything the reason I am celebrating her today is because she always made me feel like home because she’s always talked about issues in relation to us. She’s a mother to many, especially to the people who have loved and followed her music. She spoke much about life, social illnesses, gender based violence, how to unite as a people. So for me because I have never had gold in my hands I feel like I cannot sing about gold but the only thing I have right now is through her teachings when I listen to her songs. One of my favorite songs is Yise Wabant’a Bami, where she talks about the father being absent  because those are mostly issues that we come across in society. So it really touches my soul. It’s part of the show, I had to rearrange the songs so that it feels closer to me.

Nhlanhla Dube is an exciting prospect and paying ode in such manner is clear indication of her worldly view and raising star.

“…My goodness, I don’t like spilling beans. I’ve been learning so far that, ‘Nhlanhla stop announcing things before they happen’ cause [at times] I get so excited. But one thing I am sure about [that is upcoming] is just the body of work – I am going to release a body of work, my own music, perhaps an EP. I also have great features coming along, there’s a song where there’s Mr Brown, Akon and Somba – it’s more of AmaPiano but with Umbaxanga blends. When we were recording the song they were like, ‘this is what we are looking for, we don’t want you to try other stuff, we want you to be as authentic as you possibly can’. I also have other shows in August that I was casted for including some here at the South African State Theatre.”

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