WATCH | Setting the stage for South Africa’s emerging musicians to keep a sound headspace

Making waves of transformation in a male-dominated industry, Thinati Nombewu is providing access to a global stage for underprivileged and up-and-coming music stars.

Based in Cape Town, where many talented artists lack opportunities to distribute their music, Nombewu stepped in to amplify their careers.

Noticing the negative impact caused by the struggle to succeed or the dangers that come with being in the limelight, she introduced a mental wellbeing programme.

“Many musicians fall into abusive behaviour, whether it's a relationship with themselves, drugs, or even those around them,” she says. “It’s my mission to support emerging artists in any way I can.”

Nombewu is the first CEO of ZOJA, a talent management and distribution company.

Backed by her experience in music news, Nombewu learnt that musicians in South Africa’s townships and rural areas are often unable to showcase their work globally.

Through ZOJA, Nombewu ensures their artists’ music is permanently available on digital streaming services. This solves a common challenge faced by musicians: having their songs taken down because they can’t keep up with subscription payments. Beyond financial difficulties, these artists need stable moral support as they start out.

“We’ve decided to introduce mental health help to the people who are under our platform,” she says.

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For musicians, being in the spotlight can be a source of stress leading to substance and alcohol abuse.

“We have a professional therapist who comes in and gives them counselling,” Nombewu says.

While she aspires to own a music label one day, widening the reach of South African artists and maintaining their mental wellbeing is Nombewu’s top priority.

“This is more than just a music distribution platform, our impact will affect the community for the greater good,” she says.

Footage courtesy of Qhama Musiq, OG Orochi, and Bravo Le Roux featuring Soul Kulture was used in the creation of this film.