He is one of the pioneers of African jazz music. His music helped millions of people in the townships stay sane during the apartheid era.
Veteran jazz maestro Sipho Hotstix Mabuse just turned 70 and he’s got a lot to celebrates. He’s made great music for decades, travelled the world, created a lasting legacy and he’s lived his life with no regrets.
He started his career as a drummer in 1970 and his big break came with the single Jiva Soweto. This year the musician celebrates 70 years of a life well lived and shares seven career highlights.
1: A young Hotstix: “One of my most memorable moments was not even about my music but was about my youth. I was accompanying my parents during the passive resistance, burning the Dompas (A Pass Book) during apartheid. That will always remain in my memory. The music that played on that day was sad music yet moving and that memory still lingers in my thoughts.”
2: Starting a band: “In high school, we started one of the most prolific music bands, The Beaters. I had always loved music, but I never imagined myself in a band composing music, I always imagined myself to be an academic until we formed The Beaters.”
3: Meeting Icons: “I have performed on many stages around the world. But meeting the late Nelson Mandela when he came out of prison would always be unforgettable, exchanging pleasantries with mama Winnie Mandela was also an incredible highlight.”
4: Success: “My musical success is always something that I will cherish. I understood that this was my calling at a very early age. I wanted to change lives through my music and sharing a stage with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Queen, and many others assured me that I am worthy. There are so many memories.”
5: Gratitude: “Being alive and making it to 70 years old is a milestone and a blessing. To be born is a privilege and should not be taken lightly. I never realised that I was growing until people kept reminding me because I’ve always felt young at heart. But I also never thought that I would make it to 70 years old. I feel privileged. My aunt, who is my father’s youngest sister lost all her siblings before they turned 70 years old and she celebrated when she made it that old and for me, that is my inspiration.”
6: Family: “Although my life has been a great adventure, I wish I had spent more time with my children when they were younger. I spent many years on the road, travelling and making music. I hope I expressed my love to my kids, but I do wish I had spent more time with all my children.”
7: His message to young musicians: “Commitment is important. Make time for your craft, practice, learn and discover new ways of being creative. Young people also need to use music for the good of society. Music is a gift you use to share your experiences with others, being a musician means you’re a prophet and you need to use it for the good.”