Rheumatoid arthritis can't tame Lioness

Lioness's roaring louder with her sound.
Lioness's roaring louder with her sound.

Living with pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis has never stopped songstress Lioness from roaring. The 30-year-old Ba Dumetse (they have accepted) singer - born Mamphore Mohoje-Rabanka - was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease at the age of six. The disease causes joint pains.

At its worst for Lioness, it left her immobile when she was aged between six and seven. It was then that she first discovered her musical talent.

"I remember being in and out of hospital. I couldn't walk. I remember them putting ice packs on me," she recalls.

"That's when I first discovered singing. When other children went to school, I would sing at home. There is no cure for it, my joints still get sore. I have struggled to walk in my adulthood too, where I would one day wake up in pain."

After 15 years of making music, she scored her big break this year with a hot collaboration with Mobi Dixon. The end result is the pulsating banger Ba Dumetse in which she sings about her long walk to stardom.

"I was one of those energetic kids that was always dancing and singing. So, Ba Dumetse comes from when my elders predicted that I will be a star one day. Some of them have passed away, but they saw it coming before I could even see it. It's finally my time. I call my sound Afro-blues. It doesn't exist in the books. It's music that addresses real issues. I'm looking to heal souls," she said.

Lioness started singing professionally at 16, even forming an Afro-soul band at one stage. But when her star wouldn't take off, she gave up.

The Katlehong-born singer also worked as a Sotho newsreader on Jozi FM and Kasie FM, before deciding to make her music comeback in 2017.

"I gave up on music for a while and focused on radio. I was strained because I was my own team and doing everything from my pocket. I got tired of that and opted to activate my other talents."

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