Siphokhazi for Sama clean-out

Gugu Sibiya and Prince Chauke

Gugu Sibiya and Prince Chauke

Siphokazi Maraqana, the new Afro-soul kid on the block, is determined to sweep the boardsat this year's South African Music Awards.

Maraqana has been nominated five times in the categories for best female artist, best newcomer, album of the year, best adult contemporary album: African, and best producer.

The singer from Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, had barely released her debut album, Ubuntu Bami, before promoters grabbed her for gigs.

Looking fragile in her denim pants and red top, the pretty singer said her nomination was unexpected.

"That I have five is God's blessing. I truly feel blessed. It's such an honour to be nominated alongside artists who I respect and look up to," said Maraqana.

Asked what inspires her, Maraqana said she likes Dorothy Masuka and Dolly Rathebe. She also listed Thandiswa Mazwai and Simphiwe Dana.

Said she: "Ubuntu Bami is a reflection of who I am, my philosophy and the way I was raised.

"It has varied influences that I picked up in church as an aspirant gospel singer, as a dreamer in school and from my family."

Meanwhile musicians have reacted angrily to this year's nomination of kwaito sensation Sgonondo in the best kwaito album category.

Sgonondo has been nominated for Amadragon, which he claims he recorded in prison. He was paroled in January.

Disgruntled musicians claim he lied about being in prison when he recorded the album.

"The organisers are fast turning the awards into a Mickey Mouse event," said Doc Shebeleza.

Will of Steel Productions said: "Irrespective of his lies, I just don't like him. But if people like Mzekezeke can get away with it, why not him?

Thembinkosi Nciza, TS Records co-owner and producer, said: "I have my own reservations about Sgonondo, but I respect the judges' decision."

Sgonondo's producer, Arthur Mafokate, was unfazed. "I'm still going strong," he said.

MTN Samas chief executive Sean Watson also disagreed with the nay sayers.

"We welcome Sgonondo with open arms. The judges felt he deserved to be there," said Watson.