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Busi Mhlanga flies Zimbabwe flag high in foreign lands

by Mafu Sithabile
29 Apr 2016 at 00:24hrs | Views
UK based singer Sibusiso Mhlanga is flying the flag for the Zimbabwean nation with her colourful traditional attire and socially conscious lyrics. Popularly known as Busi Mhlanga, she is currently working on releasing her first album.

Busi tells Bulawayo24 that her family was instrumental in igniting her passion in music. She says: "My grandfather was a traditional healer and herbalist inyanga. The family used to hold some traditional concerts right in the village. He would ensure all the family members, young or old come from the city to the village.

"Drums, clapping, singing, dancing would be involved. My mom, dad and other elders of the family told me that I started singing at 9months where I would imitate songs that were sung during the gatherings and I would clap hands and dance. I walked at 9months so I guess it was easy for me to do all that.

"My mother on the other hand, is a deep spiritual Christian so in the city we went to church and I led the Sunday school choir. So my inspiration started really from my family and society as a whole."

Busi describes her music as afro-contemporary, afro-traditional and gospel saying: "So far I have only released 2 singles, Xenophobia, which I released during the Xenophobic attacks in SA, then my second one was the Wedding Song which is liked by many so far."

Among artists that have inspired her, it is clear Busi has a lot of admiration for strong women. She says, "I have other established musicians who inspire me. The likes of the late Miriam Makeba,  Busi Mhlongo & Brenda Fassie, Dorothy Masuka, Yvone Chaka Chaka, Rebeca Malope, Angelique Kidjo,Busi Ncube, Oliver Mtukudzi & many more."

In line with this, Busi has taken it upon herself to promote other artists, particularly women, who she believes are still largely vulnerable to the whims of men in the industry.

Busi is determined not to leave others behind and despite all the inroads she has made in the music industry; she bemoans the lack of opportunities for artists from Matebeleland.

She recently started a group on Facebook called KwaMthwakazi Women Musicians as a way of bolstering a talent she believes is being overlooked. She tells Bulawayo24: "The talent is there but lacks total support, resources and a good marketing strategy"

She says: "Women musicians are sometimes suppressed as most of them work under men. Some men take advantage of us, they want to sleep with us, want a relationship with us before they help us to rise.

"I would like to see women rise up in music, stand up for themselves, not rely too much on anyone who will take advantage of them.

"I am not saying all men do that as there are those who have helped women rise in the arts, men like Innocent Dube of Iyasa, Dumisani Ramadu, Albert Nyathi, Cont Mhlanga, Sihlangu Dlodlo, Elexander Mhlanga."

Busi has a lot of positive things to say about Albert Nyathi, whom she credits for helping with her career.  She says, "I was the lead vocalist for Albert Nyathi & Imbongi for 8 years and Albert really brought out the professional artistic side in me at an early stage.

"Actually, the Black Umfolosi did the initial stages as I was part of the first female troupe, Umhlathuzi, which was formed by black Umfolosi in the early 90s. That's where Albert Nyathi saw me."

Ever since then, she has not looked back despite the challenges that come with being based in the UK. It is more difficult and expensive to get people together because they all have other priorities.

However, the resourceful singer has managed to set up a UK network of performing artists from Zimbabwe, including Stutu Zimazile Mguni, Consolata Ngwenya, Tongesai Gumbo.

She is also well connected with artists from other parts of Africa and the rest of the world and this is what is helping her brand grow and has given great opportunities.

In 2011, she worked with notable talent including Zahara at her 'Africa Unplugged' at Wembely, London. Busi was appointed to arrange the choreography and backing vocalists and she also got the chance to back Zahara at the concert.

"We shared a stage with many big African musicians like, Femi Kuti, 2 face Idibia, Winky D, Zakes Bantwinin and many more," she adds. She also travels to Norway from time to time at the invitation of one of Zimbabwe's legendary female musicians, Busi Ncube.
Busi feels like her music is now widely accepted and this is evident by her UK fans from different races, countries and backgrounds. She has appeared on notable platforms such as the BBC and she says: "The community is well diversified and they do enjoy my music.

"They like the fact that I present my music in my Zulu/Ndebele African style and also for those who have seen my videos or seen me perform live, they like my traditional attires and the dances."

Source - Byo24News

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