By Mpho Lehlongwa
The acapella scene in South Africa has been part of our culture for many years. From churches to buses and school choirs, acapella forms an integral part of African identity and culture. This genre has grown and given birth to many talented singers in South Africa, who have forged successful musical careers and achieved mainstream success.
I got the chance to meet up with Samkelo “Samthing Soweto” Ndolomba – an amazing acapella singer and former member of soul collective The Soil.
I walked into Velo Art Gallery situated in the heart of Braamfontein and noticed Samthing Soweto sitting quietly in a corner with a bottle of water while texting on his phone. There was a distinct air of humility about him as he welcomed me with a firm handshake and a cup of coffee.
Without wasting any time, we got straight into the interview and started discussing his music career and creative process. He tells me straight away that his music is like art.
“You can look at me like a beat boxer, but I am not. In a sense that a beat boxer would hear different sounds and different music, and try to emulate them vocally, but instead of me using the sounds at one time, I use it at different times and at different projects.” says Samkelo.
Sam’s hard work and perfectionism is there for all to hear on his recently released EP, Eb’suku. Samkelo records his vocals piece by piece and all those different vocal elements come together to make great songs. His recording and singing style is similar to that of black Zionist singers, with just a little something different that is uniquely “Samthing Soweto”. He has full creative control of his music, so everything you hear is all him. In his music he sings about authentic African stories that anyone can relate to, which makes it difficult not to fall in love with his music.
Sam goes on to say “I think people don’ t understand one thing about me, I’m an artist man, and I think a lot of people say that without knowing what it means.” A lot of artists don’ t take their art seriously and use it just to follow trends.
“Don’ t follow the trend start the trend, Pioneers last longer” Sam emphasizes that strongly.
What Samkelo actually does, sets him apart from the average artist and what he does with his craft is exposed through his EP’s artistry. Although his EP is comprised of 5 songs, they sound too good, making his audience ask for a full album and to my surprise he mentions how the EP has 5 versions to each song.
“Whatever people know me for now is nothing compared to what they’ll know me for in the future,” Sam says.
Sam also touched on his past with multi-award winning group The Soil. All he has to say about his ex-band members is “The Soil are the modern day pioneers of this acapella sound, and I wish them all the best.”
Lastly I asked him if his music was a representation of a new SA sound.
“All these South African genres have one sound that connects us all, and I think I found that sound, no actually, I found it.” the man goes on to say. The only way to find out what this amazing singer is talking about, is by purchasing his EP titled E’bsuku here. Undoubtedly one of Sa’s most talented musician to emerge of late. Look out for this guy, he is something special like cheese in a township household.
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