'DJ stole my voice'

Cecil Motsepe

Cecil Motsepe

Popular television personality and musician DJ S'bu Leope is facing a lawsuit that could potentially blemish his reputation and send his empire crumbling.

In 2007 the popular YFM and TV presenter walked away with the South Africa Music Award (Sama) for Best Song of the Year after remixing the Josh Groban hit Remember When It Rained.

Now the DJ is being accused of stealing someone else's vocals.

Sowetan can exclusively reveal that Wade Engelbrecht, who sings the song, is suing Leope and TS Records for profits generated by the the sales of DJ S'bu Y-Lens Vol 1.

The astonishing alleged deception came to light after we were shown damning documents portraying Leope as a crook.

In papers filed in the Randburg magistrate's court Engelbrecht is demanding a yet-to-be-determined sum.

It is claimed that in 2006 Engelbrecht pre-recorded the vocals for the song at Chris Palmer's studio under the impression that the musical piece "was going to serve as an audition for a prospective and undisclosed record producer".

To his dismay Engelbrecht heard his vocals on Leope's album.

"The second defendant (Leope) without the plaintiff's (Engelbrecht's) consent, unilaterally released an album that contains a song titled Remember when it Rained, featuring Wade in which the plaintiff's recorded audition was commercially released and sold," says one document.

It goes on: "At no time did the plaintiff agree with either the first or second defendant to the use of the plaintiff's above-mentioned audition in any commercial release in any form whatsoever. The defendant's use of the plaintiff's voice in unlawful."

Engelbrecht, a renowned musician, argues he was never compensated.

Sowetan tracked him down in Durban.

"I was told it was only a pilot and that they were looking for someone who could sing like Josh Groban," he said. "The next thing I knew the song was big. I want my fair share."

Lawyers for the allegedly delinquent Leope and his TS Records co-owner Thembinkosi "TK" Nciza filed a notice to defend the matter.

Sowetan was unable to contact Leope but Nciza said they were ready to take Engelbrecht on.

"He (Engelbrecht) is wasting our time and his," Nciza said. "We paid him a session artist's fee of R2 000.

"It is stupid of him to come after such a long time and make such claims."

But Engelbrecht was adamant that he had been deceived and that the DJ also deceived the public:

"On the music video S'bu is miming but it is actually my voice. He can't even speak properly so how can he be expected to sing. He lacks integrity."

Engelbrecht told Sowetan that on the night of the Samas at Sun City the DJ promised to invite him on to the stage and credit him.

"I stood backstage like a fool."

This prompted one critic to say: "Average has been elevated to an art ... That is why it is so easy for a South African Song of the Year to be a Josh Groban effort and not a word is said about the Los Angeles-born singer and songwriter when swindlers go on stage to accept the award."

Last year Leope faced a R100 000 lawsuit by DJ Peace from Swaziland.

This came after students at the University of Swaziland went on the rampage because Leope failed to honour a commitment to perform at the campus.

DJ Peace said he paid R15 000 upfront after Leope agreed to come to Swaziland on September 21.

In 2005 Leope was entangled in a legal battle, this time with the owner of Good Fellaz Records, Isaac Sithole, who accused him of failing to attend a gig in Port Elizabeth after accepting upfront payment.