Gospel in Me Relaunched: Review

Tribute Birdie
Tribute Birdie Mboweni leading the audience in praise and worship.

Concert Review by Neziswa Kanju

After a successful three series of concerts and live broadcast of the concerts on SABC channels in 2012 and 2013, Native Rhythms Productions together with its partners Aptitude Consulting re-launched the Gospel in Me Concert at the Lyric Theatre in Gold Reef City last week.

The Gospel in Me Concert™ a concept and an initiative by Native Rhythms Productions, showcases the sacred side of South Africa’s leading Afro-Jazz/Soul and pop singers who, despite their church background, chose not to pursue Gospel as a music career and genre. “The Gospel in Me Concert™ is a true testimony by those artists who use God’s greatest gift – the Voice – to Sing”, says Sipho Sithole, owner of Native Rhythms Productions and concert producer. Known for discovering and introducing popular music groups and solo artists such as The Soil, Cama Gwini, Deepa Trybes. Indwe, Isabell Novella, Malambule, Nazania, Nkuule Dube, Pu2Ma, Sol Phenduka, Zulu boy, Vuyo Tyolo, Zakwe, Tribute Birdie Mboweni, Simphiwe Dana, Lulu Dikana, Sipho Hotstix, Zonke; Gloria Bosman, Madosini, and Siphokazi, Sithole is a respected producer in South African music circles. The public bought into his music concept of having the stars remember their roots in singing Gospel.

“Having successfully hosted three of these concerts, it is time to rebrand and reintroduce the concept to the masses. People loved the concept so much and the idea of showcasing artists that the audience never thought they could see perform Gospel music made the concerts popular and interesting” said Velile Sithole, Managing Director of Native Rhythms Productions

This year’s line-up boasts a selection of powerful and strong non-Gospel artists who truly believe in the WORD! The Gospel In Me – 2016 Relaunch concert hosted by the popular Gospel comedian Kedibone Mulaudzi included The Soil, Tribute Birdie Mboweni, Jobie Clarke and Beyond Vocal. By presenting these artists singing Gospel music, the concert provides an interesting twist and fresh perspective to a music genre that has been the preserve of only Gospel artists.

Vocal phenomenon Jobie Clarke opened the concert.

Kedibone Mulaudzi kept the audience in stitches throughout the event. What makes his comedy hilarious is he talks about what he knows and what the audience can relate to.

Ntando Sithole-Clarke popularly known as Jobie Clarke was the opening act. Clarke is a Johannesburg based, classically trained jazz vocalist who has a diverse and rich musical background. This vocal phenomenon has extensive experience within the musical fraternity dating as far back as from his Drakensburg Boys Choir School days and has gone on to work with musical maestros such as Sibongile Khumalo, Tony Bennett and Abdullah Ibrahim. He hails from the Midlands of KZN.

A few days after the concert Ntando Jobie Clarke gave a glimpse of his faith and passion when he wrote the following post on his facebook wall about worshipping:

Sometimes we need to learn to trust the congregation to dig their own wells and to believe that they are as hungry for a personal encounter for themselves as we are for them to receive one. It is pivotal to not end up being a distraction but to always remember that our function as worship leaders is to open the door that leads to the encounter (which the song and anointing on its own can do) and then believe that He will do the rest after all He simply requires faith. It’s ok to let the band play and let faith in the room rise and allow the beautiful exchange between God and his people to happen without us directing it; whether its through intercession, shouts, claps or their own exaltation as they see fit -it is ok. Sometimes we over do things and create a disconnected culture where people walk in and sing and sit down having not encountered because our preference of song/style/tempo far supersedes that of the congregation we are ministering to… Tough but true. Let us check ourselves.

A songwriter and songbird, Tribute ‘Birdie’ Mboweni continued leading us in praise and worship with ministering songs such as “Ï just can’t give up now. I’ve come to far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy. I don’t believe He led me this far to leave me” Mboweni was born and raised in Mkhuhlu, Mpumalanga. Having serenaded audiences in Qatar and Dubai playing with a jazz band featuring one of South African’s great jazz pianists, Sylvester Mazinyane, performing at COP17 national awareness events, as well as performing at the Earth Fest in Zambia, the petite singer is working diligently to carve a path that ensures that she too, has a place in the music industry.

Tribute has made strides having come first place at the Born To Be Famous Academy’s Born To Sing Showcase, judged by lead talent scout and Native Rhythms Productions Founder Sipho Sithole and Mandisa Bardill-Kwebulana, Executive Producer at Imbumba Stage Productions. A Boundless Southern Africa Ambassador, off the stage she is an Environment and Conservation Ambassador, working committedly and tirelessly making a difference across the country through Projekt 23 – The Green Movement, a community and schools-based environmental education, treeplanting and social upliftment non-profit organisation she co-founded in March 2009. Having made the list on the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in 2010 under the Environmental Youth leaders sector, she has also represented South Africa in a number of international platforms including the 2010 G8 & G20 Youth Summits in Canada, the One Young World in the US, the International Biodiversity Conference in Japan, amongst others.

The popular group members of The Soil who have mesmerised audiences from Mzansi to the Apollo in New York, each sang their own songs unaccompanied. It was a treat for the audience to see them without the other band members as we were spoilt with four songs. They sang one of their songs from their second DVD Nostalgic Moments Andinanto. First to sing from The Soil was Buhlebendalo Mda their lead singer followed by Phindo who sang a medley of popular songs namely Kuhle ke (It is well) and Khona Manje in his solo performance. Known in the Soil as the beatboxer for the group the crowd were pleasantly entertained listening to Phindo singing and leading a song. He was followed by his fellow band member and brother who entertained the crowd with the classic Njalo! Siyanikela; siyadumisa; siyathandaza thina njalo! (Always we give; we praise; we pray…)

The performance that many in the crowd were waiting for was that of Zikhona Sodlaka. She graced our screens for many years in many different roles and the audience wanted to see if she can also belt out a note in praise. She won South African hearts as Priska in the popular and iconic soapie, Generations. Sodlaka first wowed Mzansi in the classic Xhosa drama Tsha Tsha. She has appeared in many drama series and soapies, namely Muvhango, Shooting Stars, Rhythm City, Soul City, Intsika, Entabeni, Intersexions A place Called Home and Montana. She also played the role of Themsi in the Tim Greene-directed film Skeem. She is mainly known as an actress and quite recently did we get to see her presenting side on Top Actor series which premiered on BET on April 2, 2015. This talented Eastern Cape artist from uMtata is once again introducing the audience to more of her talents as she took the stage to lead a South African classic. The audience sang along to accompany her in her rendition.

Although she would like to be musically involved someday, she is patiently waiting for the right moment to show what she has to offer.

Now that the Gospel in Me has been re-launched we hope it will be an annual event continuing to expose the spiritual side of our artists. There is a need for more collaborations between established gospel artists such as Benjamin Dube and artists who want to explore the “Gospel In Me”.

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