ARTIST LEFT TO ROT

THE artist in Khethi and her dedication to her music is unmistakable as she pours her heart out about her frustration in trying to get her debut album to the market.

THE artist in Khethi and her dedication to her music is unmistakable as she pours her heart out about her frustration in trying to get her debut album to the market.

She has dazzled music lovers all over the world and elsewhere in Africa - as well as here at home in live performances - but still her unborn child is gathering dust.

Many artists bend over to record companies' executives and compromise on their style of music, but not Khethi. She believes companies are in it for a quick buck and could not care less about nurturing artists.

"I'm more of an underground musician in this country. I would like to be in the mainstream but it is not easy," she tells me.

Born Khethikubonga Ntshangase in the City of Choice, she describes her music as Afro-soul jazz with a touch of hip-hop.

"If I wanted to make a quick buck I would sing African hip-hop but where would that get me? I want to make music that will last, not something that will be hot for three months and just fizzle out.

"I want to make quality music like Miriam Makeba," she says.

Although she was born in Pietermaritzburg, she has lived and worked in Johannesburg, Malawi, England and Tanzania.

She has collaborated with creative minds from Malawi, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Jamaica, England and India. It all started during poetry sessions in Melville and Newtown where she was a songstress. In 2003 she cut an album. She did three songs in Malawi and the next year she recorded the bulk of it in the UK.

She finished off the album here in South Africa but it was packaged in the UK and she has been struggling to get a licence for it to be released in SA ever since.

The delay in getting a licence here has resulted in her overseas producers, who own half the copyright, bailing out. She is not giving up on her dream: "It is still going to happen. But this has delayed other projects. The good thing is that I have started writing again."

Khethi's frustration at being unable to get the licence drove her out of the country last year. She headed for Tanzania where she was a resident singer at a five-star hotel that was abuzz with international tourists. She also worked for a TV station as a presenter and a radio broadcaster.

This year she decided it was time to come home and since her return she has been gigging and restructuring her band.

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