Bongeziwe Mabandla Born in Tsolo, a rural part of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, Bongeziwe showed a growing passion for art and music from an early age. He learnt the guitar, matriculated from Lady Grey Arts Academy and studied drama at Johannesburg film school AFDA. As a student, he soon dedicated himself to music, started to write songs and to perform solo gigs while developing his own unplugged music style and earning recognition as a musician. Together with his band, Bongeziwe created a matchless afro-folk sound, fused with his soulful voice delivering in Xhosa, sometimes in English. Influenced by artists like Tracy Chapman, Simphiwe Dana, Jabu Khanyileoliver Mtukudzi and Laurin Hill, his sound has a rhythmically grass-roots vibe while fusing elements from traditional Xhosa music, Mbaqanga, Soul, Hip-Hop and Dub.
Chatting with Bongeziwe How did you start off in you music industry? I started of when I met Paulo Chibanga of 340ml. We recorded some songs, and I started playing some live gigs. What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences? My genre is Urban African traditional folk. Iâ€™m influenced by Olivia Mtukusti, Simphiwe Dana and Vusi Matlasela. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?) I write a lot about equality in a South Africa. I think itâ€™s really important to always stand up for the things you believe in, in the work you see. How do you go about writing your songs? I write about things that impact me or make me feel extremely. A lot of the content is from my life experiences so a lot of the writing involves investigating my own feeling and emotion. What image do you think your music conveys? African pride.
Where have you performed? What are your favourite and least favourite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows? I have performed all of South Africa and overseas. But my favourite place to perform is still Johannesburg. The crowd here really appreciates art. When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together? I heard some of the guys play with other bands so I approached the guys. What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how? I guess travelling together is fun but sometimes being on the road with a lot of people can be too much, so yes thatâ€™s probably the worst thing. What is your favourite part of being in a band? Sharing the same dreams with people. Its good when the band invites their family and friends to gigs makes us know that we are chasing the same goal.
A booklet consisting of Solo artist mages of Bongeziwe Mabandla at the Richmond Hill Music Festival in Port Elizabeth.