For the love of Jazz music
The MTN Bushfire Festival is always a perfect stage for local artists to showcase their talents. This year’s event was no different as many of them were featured in the three days.
Among them was beautiful Mpho Tshabalala who performed on the first night of the event. The 27-year-old former St Mark’s pupil performed with the Rooted Soulz crew. She caught GCWALA’s eye with her beautiful soulful voice and stage presence.
From the few songs she performed with the Rooted Soulz crew, one could tell that she is a woman who is a musician at heart and one could see that she was doing something that she loves with a passion.
Mpho, who is second year Journalism student at the University of Swaziland, says she has been singing ever since she was a child. Interestingly, she never tried to join any of the local stables in her early 20s as she says she felt she still needed to learn more about the singing job.
"I do not want to be a fly- by-night artist who will sing one song and then disappear. I thought I wanted to learn more first because I love quality. I wanted to first know what I was doing and do it well so that I can be taken seriously. I don’t want to be viewed as a desperate musician," she says.
It’s no surprise that she then enrolled at the KwaZulu Natal Howard College School of Jazz for a course in music. However, due to circumstances beyond her control, she had to drop out during her second year. She came back home and enrolled at the local University but still had the passion for music.
"I learnt a lot while in KwaZulu Natal and I am an aspiring pianist which is why once I’m done with my Journalism course I will take some piano classes," she says with a smile.
She says she fell in love with music because she grew up with the idea that she was talented.
"When I was young, I thought of myself as some sort of Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston," she says.
Interestingly, her heart was not in the rhythm and blues genre but with soulful jazz which according to her, is the biggest genre in the whole world.
In Mpho’s opinion, jazz music is a standard kind of music and the most beautiful genre.
"Jazz music is a school because once you know jazz then you know everything. It makes you appreciate every kind of music and allows you to play all the elements of music."
Another reason for choosing the jazz genre is that she is so in love with old things that last for a long time. This includes clothes.
Just like most jazz singers, she loves traditional clothes as they make her look descent and comfortable.
"I’m a tom boy so I love blazers especially the long ones because they take out my shape very nicely."
Even though she loves what she does, it pains her that local musicians are not given a perfect platform where they can not only showcase their talents but also become professional.
She also laments the fact that there are no laws that protect artists which is why most of them (artists) are not taken seriously.
"We need laws that will protect us as artists. Until then, my fellow musicians need to work hard and teach themselves on how to be professional."
For her, Rooted Soulz, which she joined because of her love for poetry, is the best music movement that will shine for many years to come.
She says the moment she was told about it, she obliged as she knew that it had mostly young artists like her who are determined.
"I like everything that happens at the Rooted Soulz house because we do a lot of things. Some of the singers are employed but we do find time where we just get together to rehearse plus groom one another. I just hope it’s not a 2012 thing but a structure that will groom other upcoming artists because art is very important."
In five years time she is hoping to be an established media businesswoman something which she wants to do to advance local artists.
"Call me an artist activist or whatever but I will write about art and venture into businesses that touch on it in every way."
As we end the interview, she requests to say a few words for young people.
"I want them to look to God even when a person doesn’t know the way, they should always look to God because He will make all their dreams come true."
Mpho’s Favourite Things
I’m a huge fan of Anita Baker and a huge fan of Lira. There are others as well like Thandiswa Mazwai, Diana Reeves and Jill Scott.
I’m so in love with the old ones like ‘The Dutchess’.
Place in Swaziland
I love Nhlangano because every time I drive down there I feel it’s so breathtaking especially when I get to Mehlwabovu and my grandfather’s farm at Enhlanhleni.
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