Sipho Hotstix Mabuse, one of South Africa’s most famous performers, turns 70 next month. And says he is not done entertaining the world just yet.
In fact, Mabuse, who has been making music for over half a century, will be releasing new material – just in time for Christmas. And, as if channelling his well documented super powers, he added: “I am writing a book as well. My memoirs”, which will be released in December too.
The almost-70-year-old describes the theme of his new music album: Ubuntuzim: Being African as “very African”.
“It’s going to be amazing. There’s a track which is called ’Soft Town Blues’, and it’s very jazzy,” he explains. “It is about the apartheid forced removals of the people of Sophiatown and District Six. It is something that lingered in my mind, and how forced removals impacted people. I felt it was the right time not to forget, because sometimes we veer off and forget about our past. I think it is important to remind the young people about our experiences of the past, because their own journey is about understanding the past.”
Mabuse’s new material has been two years in the making. His efforts to produce it have been hampered by the lockdown and Eskom’s on-again, off-again rolling blackouts. “The biggest challenge has been the intermittent electrical cuts,” he says. “When you’re in the middle of the recording and the electricity just goes off. That is one of the things that really takes away from one’s creativity.”
Mabuse’s storied career is the stuff of legend. Which other local talent can casually boast about, “being introduced to Whitney Houston at the age of 19 when she performed at a concert with one of the major artists” or “getting on (stage) with Paul Simon”?
But Mabuse says one of his proudest moments was performing at late president Nelson Mandela’s 46664 concert.
“Burnout” was a favourite then and is a favourite now – still bringing people to the dance floor. A media monitoring company found that the song had as many as 300 million impacts and radio plays in the last six years alone. The track is nearly 40 years old. Even Mabuse still enjoys dancing to it with his fans. “It’s a very humbling experience seeing people still enjoy ’Burnout’. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
And a little known fact that is likely to give Gautengers heart palpitations, the man from Soweto confessed to Weekend Argus: “Cape Town is my favourite city in South Africa. It calms me down”.