Going strong after 18 years

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

Veteran music producer Freddie Gwala says when he started Afro-pop group Platform One in 1990 he knew it would stand the test of time.

He is right because 18 years later Platform One, pictured, is still going strong and is enjoying immense popularity.

Platform One is Nani Ntengo, Freddie Gwala, Nelisiwe Gwala and Sonto Dladla.

The group that entrenched itself in the industry as an African wedding songs specialist has released a refreshing new album, Woval'emnyango.

It features previously-released tracks such as Theledi, Isencane and Marubini. Two years ago, when Gwala realised that he was running out of ideas, he took a break.

But he denied that he was on recess.

"We took a break not because we had problems but because we had a busy schedule touring neighbouring states and Liverpool. We did not have time to go to the studio."

Woval'emnyango is aimed at the younger generation.

Gwala says: "When we came back we decided to be current. We had to make the music vibey because we wanted to attract youth. We know that we are not the only group that sings traditional songs so we had to refresh our style."

Since the group's inception in 1990, many groups have come to the fore, but they failed to match Platform One's standard. On the other hand, Gwala failed to capitalise.

Platform's One has done well in the past years, but their latest album is not even close to the standard of their previous albums.

"We admit that we can still do more with our sound. But people still love Platform One and what counts is that our music sells," Gwala says.

He says he is proud to have founded Afro-pop and claims that the sound originated from his group, Platform One.

"I am proud to say I gave birth to the Afro-pop genre.

"Today, all groups that release Afro-pop always include a wedding song, which is my idea. They even remix our songs like Theledi, which has been used by Malaika on their latest album," Gwala says.

Platform One's other albums include Ilobolo, Woza Makoti, Sizolala la, Womnyakazisa, Valaza and Thuli.