NAIROBI, November 3, 2009 – Thandiswa Mazwai is an African diva. Her performances are riveting and forceful, her style and ease draw immediate attention – quiet attention.
This South African vocalist released her latest album ‘Ibokwe’ early 2009. In this exclusive interview, Thandiswa shares with Capital Lifestyle her passion for travel, fashion and all things music.
1. How did you get into music?
It was purely by chance. I was a student at University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg studying International Relations and Literature. I never for a moment thought I would make a career in the music industry. I thought that only super human beings like Brenda Fassie and Michael Jackson or Whitney Houston had the talent to make music… Not mere mortals such as me.
2. Do you produce?
I co-produced my latest album ‘Ibokwe’ (released Feb ’09) with Thapelo Kgomo. This was my first attempt at producing. It was a mammoth task having to be there for every part of the process. I learnt that mixing was more than I can handle but nonetheless a very important part of producing the music, the sound. Producing is a lot harder than writing music because when you write you rely on the creative instinct, but producing is so much more technical. I am still learning.
3. What has been the most memorable moment in your musical journey to date?
There have been so many; it’s hard to find one. I have been in this industry for almost 15 years now so you can imagine. I have worked with the great late Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. I have performed at the Coliseum in Rome, the Hollywood Bowl and the great Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York. I had lunch with Nelson Mandela and Michael Jackson at the same time. Music has shown me many blessings.
4. Which musicians do you listen to?
I listen to everything from Prince to Fela Kuti to Miles Davis to Bi Kidude. I love music, any music, as long as it has a spirit and truth.
5. What direction do you want your music career to go?
Music is my life. I just want to live and play music and to stop both only when I die.
6. What is fashion to you?
Fashion for me right now is dramatic designs and African wax prints.
7. What are some of the biggest mistakes women make with fashion?
Following trends from far away and not creating their own.
8. What other interests do you have?
Travel, travel, travel.
9. What is the most important thing in your life?
My daughter Malaika, (Swahili for angel).
10. What do you think about Kenyan women?
I absolutely love the jewellery they wear. When I was in Kenya, I stocked up on my Maasai jewels.
11. Are you in a relationship?
No, I work too much.
12. Do you drink alcohol?
I have on occasion
13. Your favourite hangout?
A friend of mine and rapper on my other band bongo maffin, Jahseed has been running a dancehall night every Thursday since 1994. It is still my favourite thing to do. It’s a lot of fun, but I don’t get to do it very often, as I am usually quite busy. I love dancehall music.
14. Biggest turn-off?
15. If you were ever arrested for a serious crime, what would it be?
Protesting against the establishment to bring freedom to people
16. What is your most expensive/valued asset?
17. Your ideal holiday?
Sea, music, culture, history, hence places like Cuba, Brazil, and Mali (although this one has no ocean, but the river Niger more than makes up for that). India, Jamaica, Senegal and Zanzibar have been some of my favourite trips.