Sephuma’s new album stirs soul

The new-looking Judith Sephuma. Picture Credit: Veli Nhlapo
The new-looking Judith Sephuma. Picture Credit: Veli Nhlapo

A breathless Judith Sephuma asks me to hold on to my phone as she connects her hands-free device.

A woman on the move, she is running late for the gym and can spare a few minutes for a catch up since the release of her album, My Worship Live.

She tells me that she has become a gym bunny, no, make that a beast. Putting in the hours, sometimes two a session, has yielded spectacular results for Sephuma, whose new svelte figure has earned her admiring stares.

She does extreme cardio that includes 45 minutes on the stepper, and runs at least four times a week.

“Some people even thought that I went under the knife, but it’s all gym. Have you seen my Instagram page? You will see what I get up to,” she laughs.

But what has elevated her mood of late is also the warm reception of My Worship Live, her second gospel outing since the award-winning The Experience.

Here she delivers touching church hymns and other gospel compositions. The sincerity comes through in her voice.

There is extra sheen and vibrancy as she brings to Lifela Tsa Sione hymns Kenang Bohle, Ka Hlahlathela Felleng and Semphete Wena Ya Ratehang. She breathes new life into Jehova Moren’a Rona with the arrangements and strips it down to strong vocals and keys.

On iTunes the project has 17 tracks that include Spiritual Medley featuring Tshepo Nkadimeng from Polokwane, a blind gospel singer signed to her label Lalomba, which she says stirs the soul.

“I wanted the purity of the voices and the music and our audience loves singing along, it’s a breath of fresh air.”

Sephuma says she also felt extra blessed when she visited a church and they sang traditional hymns.

“Something happens in the atmosphere. I think the hymns and the worship come from a place of pain, when believers hoped for change in their circumstances.

“Maybe it’s also in the writing, much like slavery songs and negro spirituals of America, the melody and the words came from pain. And this pain we go through 90% of the time leads us to find Christ.

“At the core of it, when we sing them we’re helpless as we go through the emotions.”

I ask her whether jazz’s loss has been gospel’s gain.

“I never wanted to be a one- genre artist. It’s a blessing that I can sing jazz, gospel and reggae and house really well. I’m appreciating my gift.”

She says she will continue to sing jazz and juggle the two genres.

“And I also had to honour the gospel relationship I had established with my fans with the release of The Experience. I’ve never felt that I had anything to prove.

“But the worst thing I would hate would be to feel like I’ve hit the roof because I have done everything.”

She has an upcoming house track and brags that it sounds amazing and will surprise her fans. I guess that’s what the 40s do to a person.

She has thrown caution to the wind and is unapologetic about her life and choices.

“The most amazing time of your life is when you realise there’s Judith and you can love her and appreciate her.”