Why was partnering with Nescafé Ricoffy on this campaign such a good fit for you?
2021 is a seminal year for me. Why? MY 70th birthday on 2 November 2021, that’s why, when my manager was approached, (I have been working with Martin Myers since 1985), it seemed a natural fit. The brand is so well-known, and I feel it is as authentic as I am. I have spent the past 50 years in the music business, first as a member of The Beaters, then Harari, before becoming a solo artist, so there’s a lot of history and legacy there, a lot like the Ricoffy brand.
What does your South African heritage mean to you?
I still live in Soweto; it makes me whole. It is my DNA.
What makes you most proud to be a South African?
We are a nation that overcomes adversity.
In the South African music scene, every generation brings about a new sound and purpose – how does one stay relevant and unique in the space?
I went back to school and completed my matric, aged 60 because I had unfinished business. It was a joyful experience.
As far as the discipline of the classroom is concerned, music is no different. I play my sax daily to keep musically fit and if by reading this, something moves you to do something, I have helped someone grow and that brings me great joy.
Knowledge is power. I chair Music Exchange, an NPC and global music conference that is now in its 11th year. It ran online from 11 September to 2 October 2021, and our focus is all about educating artists about the business of music. My manager, Martin Myers, is the convenor. We need to build on these programmes if only to ensure that artists don’t slip through the cracks and make mistakes.
With success comes challenges, what are some of the life lessons that you’ve learned in your career?
Be authentic, pitch up and do the work, don’t believe the hype, and respect everyone you meet.
You never know where the journey will lead you. Who knew “Burn Out” would have such an effect on people to this day?
Have a team around you, no one is an island.
I have a curious mind and a wonderful manager Martin Myers and his team who works hard and believes in me and always has my back.
Learn and appreciate the power of collaboration. With that known and respected, the sky is truly the limit.
With more than 50 years of accomplishments and experience in the industry, what has been some of the biggest highlights for you in your career?
My whole career has been a joy. I am blessed to have written songs that the world love, but if I must put a musical list down, seeing Nelson Mandela as a free man, 46664 shows in London at Hyde Park, and New York at Radio City Music Hall, but there are many more. Each show brings with it a highlight, no matter how big or small, I welcome them all.
Covid-19 has brought in challenges for many South Africans, especially musicians, do you have a message for hope for those who are feeling uncertain or anxious about the future?
We need to call out corruption when we see it. It’s not OK. Stop reading conspiracy theories and do the work, pitch up, pay attention, ask for advice. It’s not easy to do the ten thousand hours, work on your craft and make it happen for you, no one can do it for you, you as an artist must want to achieve to truly succeed.
Who are you listening to right now, and can you perhaps recommend any up and comers?
My son, Biko, is 19 and he’s just released a hip-hop album with his band, 12 Dogs. The album is called Consequence of Sound. Yes, dad is very proud.
Tabia is also a lovely vocalist (SAMA nominated). Listen to the album, The Journey. She’s also in my band, as well as Black Motion. The song “Prayer for Rain”. Billy Monama also has a lovely jazz album out called Rebounce. Check all these out, the diversity of the work is so lovely.