It’s not her sequined shimmering skirt that catches the crowd’s attention but her voice. Before I even get a view of Venda songbird Makhadzi, real name Ndivhudzannyi Ralivhona, the crowd at the launch of the Royal Heritage Festival is already on their feet.
She saunters in wearing burgundy ankle boots, a matching lace bodysuit and a sparkling sequined mini-skirt.
She prowls across the floor singing about how a man’s beauty is in his pocket. The song is titled Tshikwama.
The men go wild.
An admirer from the crowd rushes in and puts a bottle of Hennessy and R200 notes on the floor in front of her. She flicks her weave, cocks her hips at him and promptly dismisses him. Floored, he gathers his offerings and blends back into the crowd.
I learn later that the rousing reaction to her performance is the norm. She’s a superstar in that part of the country.
Later we sit down for a chat. “I started singing seven years ago; people love me for my dance moves and my message through my music ... my message inspires people. I sing about people’s lives,” She explains.
The siren does her own choreography, selects her outfits and writes her own material. “I’m releasing my seventh album at the end of August, I’m not sure about the date but [I will release it] before this month ends.” She says.
Makhadzi will be performing at the 8th Annual Royal Heritage Festival at Nandoni dam in Venda next month. The event has grown in leaps and bounds and has firmly placed the province on the entertainment map.
The tickets for the festival often sell out and it is well attended, mostly by locals. The 23-year-old songbird says she’s gearing up for an energetic performance.
“All I can say is that I’m always unique when it comes to performance, I go all out even when it comes to outfits… my performance will be fire.” She said.
She went on to say that the festival benefits local peoples.
"Firstly, the festival creates jobs and as an artist there are people who don’t know me but because of the Royal Festival now they know that there is Makhadz. The [organisers] have done a lot for artists and the community as well.” She says.
During our interview, her fans keep shouting out her name. Her fans love her.
“Everywhere that I perform they just give me money … you saw. They just give me money,” She laughs.
She says she’s unique because she sings in her Tshivenda language and represents her heritage.
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“I’ve worked with big artists such as Sho Madjozi, I have songs with them, representing my language and my province as well...I have lots of songs with King Monada and Master KG, I actually work every day with Master KG because he produces my beats,” She says.
Another performer who stood out at the launch of the festival was 15-year-old rapper Jack Bunny.
He came to the notice of rapper Reason after a clip of him using a few swear words during a rap challenge went viral. Every rapper has a controversial moment, right?
“That was a challenge, Nasty C posted this challenge, where you put in your verse, he gave us a project. So I did that track; it was called Outside. I don’t usually swear in my tracks. It was just a trend I caught on,” he explains.
The young rapper was introduced to hip hop by his uncle. He started rapping at the age of 10.
“He listened to both South African rap and American rap, the likes of Tupac, Biggie, and from Teargas to everybody from South Africa, and I really fell in love with the ones he played from local artists in Venda. That’s when I thought [that] if they can do it then I can do it,” he says.
He’s also received a lot of love from locals though he says there are some people who don’t like his music and that it is okay.
“I bring a new flavour because local artists in Venda don’t have that new wave, their music is legendary. So I believe that I can do rap music in the Venda language, because nobody has ever done it [locally]. The people here rap only. I thought I can bring a new flavour and take Venda music to a new level,” the teen says.
His parents are supportive but insist on him doing school work before entertainment work. He travels with his uncle and he is currently working on his first album.
The festival will be held at Royal Gardens at Nandoni dam in Thohoyandou, Venda, on September 13 and 14.