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Maleh writes music to inspire women in the pursuit of their dreams

Award-winning singer says her 20 years in the industry have been enriching and colourful

Masego Seemela Online journalist
Singer-songwriter Maleh opens up about her two decade journey in the music industry.
Singer-songwriter Maleh opens up about her two decade journey in the music industry.
Image: Supplied

Celebrating the journey of self-discovery that women take and finding their true worth has been a top priority for singer-songwriter Maleh through her illustrious two-decade music career.  

Real name Malehloka Hlalele, the award-winning singer is noted as one of the leading voices in the neo afro-soul sphere who continues her quest to help women see the importance of pursuing their dreams despite their odds. 

While her professional singing career took off during her final high school year when she joined Afro-pop group Kaya, which released its debut album Kunzima – winning the Metro FM Best Newcomer award in 2005 – Maleh made a remarkable comeback last year with a brand-new album titled Lerato Laka after a five-year hiatus.  

“I was generally interested in the arts when I was in high school, liked writing poetry, essentially anything that allowed me to use my creativity. I professionally started taking singing seriously in 2003, so this year marks 20 years of doing this music thing,” said the 37-year-old singer.  

“My journey in the music industry has been enriching, colourful and very multidimensional. It came with its challenges but it is through God’s grace to still be here, doing what I love because a lot of artists who I started with years ago aren’t here anymore, so to still be relevant is a blessing.” 

Having been a part of a band in her teething years as a singer, the Lesotho-born singer knew that in order to stay true to who she is, she needed to be an independent artist and she was aware of the hurdles that lie ahead.

Image: Supplied

“I knew that in order to be authentic to myself I had to be independent... I wanted to be a shining example to other women out there to take a leap of faith and go against the grain for what they want,” she says. 

“A lot of my songs are like a consul to myself to encourage me to take another step forward – to try again if I have fallen... it’s generally just me looking at myself through the mirror and portraying what I see through my lyrics. I always find it so beautiful to hear women tell me how some of my songs have touched and made an impact in their lives.”  

While women are known as natural givers who tend to be selfless in most of what they do, Maleh explains that the way she crafts her messaging in her music is to always remind them that their efforts aren’t in vain and that they are seen.   

“I feel humbled that God uses me through my music to help women see reason and feel worthy of who they are. I would like to see more young talent take up space in the genre that I am in. There’s much to be done because our audience is hungry for our music and the messages we bring.”

The talented singer, who is set to embark on her tour titled One Night with Maleh, which will be launched in Bloemfontein on September 10, is part of Keep Shining, the campaign by popular maize meal brand, White Star. It aims to revive and put the spotlight on local musicians. 

Image: Supplied.

The campaign, in partnership with Radio 2000 and Sowetan, also celebrates the musicians’ contributions to the music industry with the determination to reignite the love for local music and encourage listeners to embrace the rich musical tapestry of SA. 

“White Star has over the years shined the light on local and new up-and-coming artists and given them a platform to showcase their work. I am excited to be a part of a campaign, which will see me performing along other artists on September 2 in Fourways, Johannesburg. I really can’t wait to take the people attending through a journey of wholesome feelings and transformation,” says the singer. 

“I also can’t wait to see people at my tour called Ke Tlo Fihla Experience, which pays homage to my two-decade music career... it simply says I have arrived and I’m content with who I am as a singer.”

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