S Mag

Vocal queen Bathabise ‘Thabsie’ Vokwana shares a piece of her soul

As part of the Women’s Month special, the Brutal Fruit ambassador talks about being a woman in the music biz and her forthcoming album

‘As black women, we are indeed naturally strong. It’s within us and our melanin,’ says Thabsie Vokwana.
‘As black women, we are indeed naturally strong. It’s within us and our melanin,’ says Thabsie Vokwana.
Image: Steve Tanchel

Thabsie Vokwana is the New-Age R&B queen, whose sultry voice has set her apart on the Afro-soul love-movement music scene. A former investment banker who studied economics at the University of Joburg, Thabsie got her kick-start in mainstream music when she provided the vocals for rapper Kwesta’s Ngiyaz’fela Ngawe

Before this big break, she’d done backing vocals for artists including Donald, Proverb, Khuli Chana and Cassper Nyovest. In 2017, shortly after her famous collaboration with Kwesta, the songstress released her debut album, Songs About You, which included hits such as African Queen featuring rapper JR and Cry featuring Kid X.

Thabsie has also worked with Mlindo The Vocalist, Tshego and Yanga Chief, and she collaborated with TLT on the popular singalong Mai Zuzu. As a content creator, the Cape Town-born star hit the 1-million-follower mark on Instagram, engaging us with her style, music and celeb-filled social life.

THABSIE SPEAKS:

The best thing about being a woman in 2021 is being able to diversify. This pandemic has taught me that you need to diversify, you need to know how to switch it up, because the bag that you’re used to getting could be taken away because of Covid-19.

I was only doing music and then, when the pandemic hit, I expanded to become a social media influencer. The cool thing is that the struggle has shown how women can really step up and prove they are strong enough to survive all this. The worst thing is being in a pandemic — for both men and women. The day-to-day of it is difficult to manoeuvre.

In its protection of women, SA lags. Every industry has such a huge disparity between what women and men make financially. I also think men should be more accountable, and at the top of the list, of course, is gender-based violence. It’s always women speaking out for other women. It’s time for men to speak out for women too.

Mzansi is definitely ready for a woman president. I feel we simply need a good leader. Women are so multifaceted, and a woman president would thrive.

As black women, we are naturally strong. It’s within us and our melanin. A woman should not be boxed in. She should not have to struggle or put up with nonsense to be happy. We need to just drop all the narratives. People need to live without labels.

I’m the fourth of five girls. If you include my mom, my dad had to live with six women. So sisterhood is key in my life. From a young age, I’ve seen the power of women coming together, women standing together, supporting each other, and genuinely wanting to see other women succeed. I also work with an amazing brand, Brutal Fruit, through which I am part of an amazing sisterhood of like-minded, strong and amazing women.

In March 2020, when the world stopped, I was depressed for a good two weeks. I was overwhelmed by everything that was going on. There was an eerie feeling taking over life as we knew it, and I panicked. I did, however, turn to my social media and used it as a creative outlet. Creating fun content for brands such as Brutal Fruit really helped me find my voice and make light of a tough time. That gave me sanity and, from there, my social media presence grew like crazy: I gained almost 600,000 followers last year. The biggest lesson learnt through all of that was to not box myself in, and I was forcefully pushed into other realms of creativity outside music.

At the moment, I’m working on an album. It’s 99% done. It’s actually been ready, but Covid-19 has made me hold back on releasing it. I want some sort of stability before I can fully push my music and experience the freedom of being an artist and engaging with fans again. With the new album, fans will hear two sides of me: one half of it is R&B and the other, the Afro-pop Thabsie everyone loves and has grown familiar with, with easy-listening, catchy songs.

Brutal Fruit #YouBelongAsYouAre means you don’t have to change who you are, or be something different, regardless of what space you’re in. I love the message of self-acceptance.

Follow Bathabise “Thabsie” Vokwana on Twitter and Instagram.

This article was paid for by Brutal Fruit.