On Friday, 24 April 2020 the world was introduced to Kekelingo aka Gregory Kekeletso Mabusela as he released his debut single, Khonza. However this wasn’t his first time hitting the music scene – Kekelingo rose to fame came as part of the alternative, afro-group, The Muffinz where he was the drummer.
One of the things that I admire most about this man is definitely the love and gratitude he has for the women that raised him and his love for women in general – you can tell a lot from a man by the way he speaks about the women in his life and I can assure you that this is one incredible human being, not only musically but his personality can really light up a room – his gratitude for women in general, our presence and then how this appreciation is channelled through his song Khoza is truly beautiful. One thing that you may all notice about the debut single is the fact that Kekelingo doesn’t sing in any of South Africa’s 11 official languages but in his own spiritual language – Kekelingo – a language that he expresses through chant with ‘tons of feelings’
How did the collaboration with Ami come about, why did you choose her to be a part of such a special moment for you?
Firstly, she sounds amazing obviously, and me being raised by women I thought this is a song I wrote as a tribute to the amazing women that raised me; my mom, my sister and my grandmother. Her voice represents the gentleness of those women.
You are part of the Muffinz group, what made you decide to go solo?
Still is part of the muffins band, we are in the business of making legacy music so yeah we are still together. We do not prohibit anyone, especially when it comes to arts, they even supported the move that I should release music because we have a lot of people, you know what I mean?
There’s obviously a huge difference going from producing music as a group to producing music as a solo artist but what would you say the biggest difference is?
Uhmm, I don’t have to think about harmonies anymore but at the same time, I guess it’s also me and I also just get to focus on the language – the Kekelingo, whereas in the band we have to put in proper existing languages, you know? So I suppose to answer your question the difference is that it’s just me focusing on the language, the Kekelingo but also me thinking like a producer, thinking for these artists and how me putting them in the song is going to sound like.
I saw that you have spent the last three years working in theatre productions as a music curator and performer, how was that?
AMAZING. It has enhanced my performance abilities, made me very confident as I am usually behind the drums. With theatre sometimes you have to stand still but your stillness still has to speak out loud. I have learned a lot and I am so grateful for the experience, I love that space.
Why did you decide to sing the song in Kekelingo – your spiritual language as supposed to singing it in English or other official SA languages?
It’s unique, there is nothing like it and I suppose it is originally African, if one can say so. Africans are very spiritual people and yeah there is no other way, it just had to be this way.
Is there currently an album in the works, if so what kind of songs can we expect, and will they also be sang in Kekelingo?
Yeah definitely, but obviously due to COVID19 things had to change a little, my prayer is to have it released in august seeing as it is women’s month. Me being raised by women I love abomama – they are everything, without them we are nothing. For me to be standing here, through the hands and the knowledge of these amazing women. BIG UP TO THEM.
Without a doubt, Kekelingo will be present throughout the album. What is interesting is that there will be some key features, other artists singing in their own home languages and me in Kekelingo.
What does Khoza actually mean, because I know it as a surname?
To send a message to a loved, it can also mean praise, it can come in many forms.
You say you wrote this Khoza as thank you to the women in your life, what did they think of the song?
They are on the other side other the world, they are in heaven somewhere. This was my tribute to them.
Why did you decide that 2020 was the perfect time to release your debut?
It is the most perfect time ever. The master; God had to top everything so that this body of work was available and that people would actually be at home ready to listen to it. So I am grateful, very grateful, it was the perfect time – a lot of people have said that the song gave them a sense of hope and a sense of belief in this time.
Every time there is an end, there is actually a beginning.
Obviously, this is your debut single so can you tell us more about what sort of artist you’re going to be, who are your musical influences?
I have been getting this question a lot and you are on the list of being surprised I think. The features are going to be interesting, you’re going to be blown away so, unfortunately, like everyone else you’re going to wait and see!
Lastly, where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
My plan one day is to be off-grid – off the system. Have my off- grid house in the mountains somewhere so that I can be one with nature, away from the noise and the industrial scenes of the city – so that I can compose in peace – mother nature is where we get sound. So I am hoping that.
Acting definitely, acting would be one of those things I would love to do; compose films. I know for a fact I will win lots of Grammys and I plan to start a foundation to help support young artists like myself. I would love to leave something like that – create my own legacy.
Also the language, I am going to try and get it recognised as a language for the arts, that’s what I really want to do.
Listen to khoza now;