Lebo M may be one of the most celebrated music producers in the world but there was a time when he was down and out in the US, homeless and hustling for an opportunity to be heard.
The star recently opened up about his battles on social media but speaking to our sister publication TshisaLIVE this week, Lebo said it was one of the most difficult times of his life.
He said that despite many challenges and several rejections, he kept strong because he knew he couldn't come home to SA.
"It was apartheid still and I was in exile. Growing up in exile taught me many lessons. I had to have a sense of perseverance and dream bigger."
He said that while those around him would give up or try something else, he was motivated to work harder.
"I had to stretch myself as much as possible and work really hard. I couldn't take no for an answer."
He has worked with some of the world's biggest composers and musicians, including Hans Zimmer, Elton John, Pharrell Williams and most recently with Beyoncé.
Lebo said of all his accomplishments, seeing his creation, The Lion King, come to life was the most satisfying.
"There has been so much but I am still humbled by the surprise success of The Lion King. Nobody, not even Disney, knew that it was going to be such a success. The most proud moment for me was bringing the theatre production of The Lion King home. I mean to work with South Africans was incredible and really showed our talent to the world."