Mlomo might take over as new queen of gospel

NEW gospel sensation Fikile Mlomo has dazzled television audiences and crowds during her live performances and perhaps it's now time for her to stake her claim as the next queen of the genre.

She has been nominated in the Best Newcomer category for her first album, Umangisuka, in the SABC Crown Gospel Music Awards.

The winners will be announced on November 22 at the Durban International Convention Centre.

Mlomo is up against Reverend Elias Denda and the YMC Band with Banele Mahlangu.

Mlomo's story is heart-wrenching. She grew up in a mud hut with her mother, grandparents and siblings before venturing into a music career that took off when she auditioned for the Soul City television series in Durban.

Despite leaving her mother on a sick bed she made it to the finals in Johannesburg. A day before the finals her mother died. She took to the stage with a heavy heart but clinched the first spot.

A television role in an HIV-Aids drama followed and she was spotted by well-known producer Chico Twala. It was not a rosy partnership and she left acrimoniously, accusing Twala of abusing her and not paying her for work done.

She landed in the hands of Tshepo Nzimande of Zuz'muzi Music, who produced her first album.

"I feel very happy and honoured to receive such recognition," Mlomo said.

And so she should.

Nzimande said she is confirmation that God's love is unconditional.

"Her strong personality, jolly character and love for God are what kept her going. Despite growing up under difficult conditions she managed to see the positive side of life."

The nominees were announced in Durban last weekend and many people will be surprised that reigning "queen" Rebecca Malope has not been nominated.

She has not been snubbed, the organisers insist, pointing out that she has been granted a Life Achievement Award and therefore cannot be nominated.

Other nominees are:

The Best Male Artist: Benjamin Dube, Sipho Mkhabane, Keke and Israel Mosehla.

Best Female Artist category: Hlengiwe Mhlaba, Winnie Mashaba, Makgarebe and Zodwa.

In the newly added category, Best Pop-Rock category, The Plain Truth, Proxy, Pieter McKarthy and YMC Band will battle it out.

The Best AmaZion: Paradise Catholic, Galathia, Trust in Christ and Enyonini Mission.

Best jazz: Gospel Gladiator, Margaret Motsage, Ernie Smith and Moya Movement.

Best R&B and Rap music: Banele Mahlangu, YMC Band, Jabu Nkabinde and Natalie.

The winners will be voted for by the public. The SMS line is 34069 or call 084-198-3292.

Founder of the World Gospel PowerHouse Zanele Mbokazi said there were no obvious winners this year.

"We have received double the number of entries compared with last year and this indicates the enthusiasm in the gospel music fraternity." Mbokazi said. "Since we provide a platform for unknown faces in the industry this year's entries have shown depth and richness."