Bongeziwe brings fire with umlilo

As the Melville sun sets, the crowds gather to hear what male vocalist and guitarist has to bring to the table at Poppy’s restaurant.

Nominated for two South African Music Awards (SAMAs), Best Newcomer and Best African adult albums, Bongeziwe Mabandla seems quite cool and quaint when we meet him outside the restaurant with his guitar.

“I’m here to perform for  people who love music with the hopes that they will appreciate the music and the style I’m bringing to them,” says Mabandla of the evening performance.

Not long after that the artist takes to the stage to perform songs from his album ‘Umlilo’ which received the two SAMA nods.

His is the kind of music with jazzy, soul feel vibe reminiscent of  the kind Jabu Khanyile , Shwi noMtekala and Vusi Mahlasela sounds combined.

Mabandla performed Isizathu, Umlilo, Ngawe Mama and Guluza much to a delightful and dancing crowed that screamed ‘we want more’ before the musician had finished his set.

His music is the type that has the crowds dancing and singing along to the song before he starts playing his guitar.

“Oh man I’ve had his album for a few months now and I’m loving it, seeing him perform live today was just a blessing,” enthused Vuyiswa Matomane who attended.

The performance attracted the likes of  Zola, a Musician and Baby Joe of Selimathunzi .Zola expressed affection at Mabandla’s success, mentioning the strength of the  personal growth of his relationship with Mabandla.

“His music touches my heart, I’m glad he’s at this stage in his music career as I’ve known him for three years. I’m really humbled that his music has reached the heights that it has now and wish him all the best in his career,” said Zola.

Restaurant owner and manager, Poppy said she met Mabandla at a French festival last year and had a liking to the musician.

“I met him at the Fete de la Musique festival and I immediately liked his sound which had a folk and country feel to it. Then by chance I met him at the restaurant and took the opportunity to invite him as I’d seen him walking around Melvile with his guitar, it was then that I identified that he’s an artist on a mission and I’m happy he’s honored us today,” said Poppy.

Mabandla men tiones that he is from Tsolo in the Eastern Cape and has lived in Johannesburg since 2004 and details of his passion for music.

“I’ve always wanted to do music , I studied at AFDA and had a chance meeting with Choelo Chibanga of 340ml , he heard my style of music and offered to record and produce my album,” he explains.

The album was released in August last year , Mabandla adds that his journey has been humbling and exciting.

“It’s been an interesting I’ve loved every moment of it even though it had its ups and downs as I moved around with my guitar and voice. Being nominated for a SAMA is amazing and I’m grateful to have made it this far,” adds Mabandla.

“The album is available nationally, with prices ranging from R99 to R110, at various music stores,” he adds.

As the crowds dispersed two things became clear, Mabandla is destined for greatness, award or not, another was the refreshing find of the South African consumer’s love and support for local content, singing along to the catchy, vibey and soulful sounds of Mabandla’s Umlilo.

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