+ Ruby Francis
Entry Requirements: 18+
Known as the enigmatic spirit of African Soul, South Africa’s Bongeziwe Mabandla is a multiple award-winning artist who has recorded four acclaimed albums, performed on an array of national and international stages, become a sought-after creative collaborator and expanded his talents into film and visual art.
Part of the Black Alternative sound that is staking its claim as among the most singular and compelling music forms around, Mabandla first came to the attention of music fans with his 2012 debut, Umlilo. Working with composer, instrumentalist and producer Tiago Correia-Paulo, he has since released a trio of albums - Mangaliso (2017), iimini (2020) and his latest, amaXesha (2023) - that have taken the singer, songwriter and musician from the Eastern Cape rural town of Tsolo onto the international stage.
Among his many accolades are twp South African Music Awards (SAMA) for Best Alternative Music Album (Mangaliso in 2018 and iimini in 2021), Best Music Video at the 2018 Capital City Black Film Awards and at the Jozi Film Fest for “Bawo Wam”, a collaboration with Spoek Mathambo, iimini being included in American Songwriter’s Top Albums of the Year in 2020 and amaXesha being selected as Global Album of the Month by the UK’s The Guardian in April 2023. Mabandla also featured in ColorsxStudios’ HOME/BRED series during the global lockdown - a performance that later featured in the platform’s Best Of edition - and followed it up with a mesmerising performance of ‘sisahleleleni (i)’ off imini on Colors in April 2023.
Mabandla’s acclaimed live performances have seen him regularly sell-out tours and perform internationally at different venues and festivals including London’s 100 Club, Reeperbahn Festival(Germany), Lake of Stars (Malawi), Afrovibes Festival (Netherlands), Womex (Finland) the Oslo World Festival (Norway) and at the last six Safiko Music Festivals in Réunion. A creative explorer of the highest order in 2022 he made his film debut in Augure, a film by Belgian-Congolese artist Baloji that won the “Un Certain Regard” New Voices Award at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
Two time SAMA nominee Bongeziwe Mabandla made waves overseas in 2014 with his perfect blend of UrbanAfrican Folk. His heartfelt lyrics and honest delivery has seen him take to the stage in Germany at Africa Festival and at the renowned Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona in June 2014. Locally he had the opportunity to perform with both Joss Stone and Vieux Farka Toure’ on their South African tours. Ticking off the continents he found himself in Japan for Sukiyaki Meets the World Festival. Whilst there, he promoted the release of his debut “Umlilo” through the Meta Company. He stopped off in North Korea before returning back to SA in October where he performed on the main stage of Rocking the Daisies. Shortly after he headed to the United States to take part in One Beat, an incubator for musicbased social entrepreneurship where innovative musicians from around the world launch collaborative projects designed to make a positive impact on local and global communities. In November Bongeziwe headed to Australia for his first tour of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Born in Tsolo, a rural town in the Eastern Cape, Bongeziwe displayed all the signs of a passion for art and music from an early age. After studying drama at AFDA Johannesburg, Bongeziwe dedicated his time to song writing and performing shows, developing his own unique unplugged style and earning recognition as a musician. Together with his band, Bongeziwe has created a matchless Afrofolk sound, over which his soulful voice delivers in both Xhosa and English. Influenced by artists like Tracy Chapman, Simphiwe Dana, Jabu Khanyile and Oliver Mtukudzi, his sound has a rhythmically grassroots vibe, while fusing elements of traditional Xhosa music, Mbaqanga, Soul, Hiphop and Dub. In 2012 Bongeziwe released his debut album Umlilo through Sony Music South Africa, with producer Paulo Chibanga. The album includes collaborations with local talents Nosisi, former vocalist of Kwani Experience, and Zuluboy. The album has garnered critical acclaim, giving Bongeziwe two nominations at the South African Music Awards 2013, for Best Newcomer and Best Adult African album categories. Bongeziwe was also allowed the privilege of performing live at the SAMAs, and he provided a moving performance of ‘Ngawe Mama’, which was broadcast across the nation. While 2014 was an international year for Bongeziwe, 2015/2016 will be routed back home where he will be recording his next album.