South African Music Legend, Babsy Mlangeni Been Around & Still Holding it Down
“I would like to see disabled artist reach my status in music and beyond!!!!”
1) Krip-Hop Nation (KHN): Krip-Hop Nation is based in California, USA but with musicians around the word. Tell us how long have you be doing you music and your thoughts on the music industry in South Africa today?
I started making music professionally in 1968 and my 1st single that took me to the top was “Sala Ema” which was a huge block buster which in 1969…What do I think about South African music? The music scene in South Africa is very diverse it has multiple ganders and the interesting part is in each indigenous group it has its own traditional music, so I think that SA Music is very rich, especially since the youth is starting to remix some of the indigenous traditional songs….
2) KHN: You are in a 2009 book, Beyond Memory: Recording the History, Moments and Memories of South African Music can you summarize what you talked about in this book that was published in 2009 or talk about the importance of this book.
The book was written by Max Mojapel, Mojapelo grew up in Soweto in Tladi Township with his uncle Jimmy Mojapelo who happens to be blind. We had formed an all-blind group called “All Rounder’s”. So when Max saw the group reach its success he couldn’t believe that a group of blind musicians could make it in the mainstream music scene, he saw it fit to include the activities of the group in the book…
3) KHN: In your music career what were some of the struggles and what were the high points?
Being a blind musician to me was a big challenge and the talent scouts of those days wouldn’t give me a chance to showcase my talent just because of my blindness. They just didn’t believe that a blind person could make it in the music industry; with God’s grace I became the 1st blind superstar in SA.
4) KHN: As a Blind African musician who is from South Africa and have lived through apartheid tell us what was yours and other people with disabilities living under apartheid back then?
Apartheid was a drawback in many instances, for instants we were not allowed to record or chant English songs, not allowed to mix different languages in one song and not allowed to share the stage with white Artist, the apartheid regime made it very difficult for black musicians to obtain international passports hence we couldn’t tour aboard. Our black music was only given an hour from 9:00am to 10:00am.
5) KHN: Can you explain your song, "Music Was Born in Africa"?
Firstly rhythm originated in Africa then Africans made indigenous instruments. Rhythm and instruments created music in AFRICA hence I wrote, “Music Was Born in Africa.
6) KHN: You started the first Black-owned recording company, the Black Artists Management. Tell us about this company. Why was it needed and what is it work on today?
We started Black Artist Management the name says it all, companies were white owned, white controlled, we couldn’t record what we wanted to record and I was sick n tired about that. Black artist were exploited, they were paid R10 a session for a seven single recording and whites were paid R70 a session. A group of 5 to 6 musicians upwards were given 5% royalties for a LP recording for a contract that runs for 3 or 5 years.
7) KHN: Why do you think social consciousness and promoting social justice as well as education through your music is important for your country, for other people with disabilities and youth?
There was very little knowledge about the capabilities of disable people in general that is why I embarked in composing awareness songs like “Motho Keo” “Mina Ngiyaphila” for the general public. When I’m interview by electronic and print media about up and coming musicians I always talk about education first. Because when you’re educated you’ll be able to understand and run your career efficiently.
8) KHN: What are you working on now and are you working with or on behalf of other people/musicians with disabilities?
Presently I own a company called Jozi Entertainment we coordinate government events/concerts and conferences with our own stage, lighting and sound. We also record and promote disabled musicians in our own studio facilities. I am of the idea of trying to put together an integrated choir perhaps with your help I’ll see the light of dawn of this vision…
9) KHN: We are on a mission myself, Zululand Gospel choir and to work together with Krip-Hop Nation to not only do a song that celebrates people with disabilities worldwide but to also try to set up an international conference/concert there in South Africa for and by musicians with disabilities. What do you think about that?
I would be honored to be part and parcel of that initiative and with my company Jozi Entertainment we can make that vision a reality.
10) KHN: How can people follow your work and any last words?
People can follow me on social network Babsy Mlangeni and I will upload all his work on iTunes
I would like to see disabled artist reach my status in music and beyond!!!!