Lebo Mathosa, one of South Africa’s hottest female singers, dancers, models and actresses, rose to fame in 1994 as lead vocalist and dancer for a top Kwaito band, Boom Shaka.
You have been described as ‘one of the hottest female singers in South Africa’ and that you have ‘set new standards in the local music industry’. What do you say about this?
By listening to lots of African music. My culture, my African people, nature, and love also inspire me. I guess I am a hyperactive person; that is why I jump around so much.
What else do you do besides singing?
I am a versatile artist who dances, models and act. I also love cooking
Are you still with Boom Shaka?
Yes, we are getting together this year to release a new CD.
Do you ever face anything that could be termed high and low points in your career?
I experience the lowest point when I don’t perform at my peak, when I can’t give my very best. The highest point of my career, of course, is when I am really doing my thing. Be it acting, dancing or singing, entertaining is what I do and love. This is when I feel the love from the people, children and my family.
If you were to choose, would you like to be an actress or a musician?
I simply cannot choose; they both compliment each other.
You are known for your acting and singing roles in top South African television shows Generations, Backstage and Muvhango. Are there other screenplays you are a part of?
I did a feature film called Soldiers of the Rock which was aired in various countries in Africa. I am not sure if Kenya was one of them.
When did you start and what drew you to acting?
A producer approached me around 1999-2000 and I decided to try it out! I loved it and have never looked back.
When did you start and what drew you to singing?
Like many of my peers in this industry, I started out in the church choir. Gospel was and is still my background. I was 7 years old and my desire was to be the lead in the choir. I don’t think I can really pinpoint what drew me to music; I was born with it in my veins. Being African, music is part of my culture and upbringing and hence I would say my roots, who I am!
You fuse R&B, African music, dance, funk, ragga and Kwaito in your music producing what critics term as new standards in the local music industry. What do you call that fusion and why do you do that?
I am a diverse musician and cannot really label my music anything in particular! Sure it has all those elements but it is just music at the end. I try to include music genres that make people happy and give them inspiration.
Now that you act, sing and dance, what other talents might be waiting to be unveiled?
Give me a day and I will master anything ha ha ha, but really I always try to be great at whatever I do. I think being good at something is just a matter of choice, for instance, I model and love cooking, too.
What are you talking about in the tracks in Drama Queen?
General issues, issues people go through in life: love, pain, struggle, happiness! There is no specific topic but an overview of life transformed into music.
Some people had long observed when she was still alive that you were progressively upstaging Brenda Fassie as South African Musical queen. What was your reaction to that?
I totally disagree with that! There will never be a day when I will upstage the great Brenda Fassie. She was and still is my idol. She inspired me to do what I do, how I do it. Growing up in a small town, Brenda was everything to me. It is an honour to be compared to her. But upstage her? NO.
As you hold the publishing rights to all your works, do you encounter the problem of piracy?
Piracy is a huge problem in Africa, let alone South Africa. It is a common problem that is killing artists on a global level. I think most artists in this country feel the efforts. Music was made for the people, to inspire them. It is our bread and butter at the end of the day! Pirates are eating this away!
You are said to have collaborated with American artists: who are they and how is it affecting your style and general music career?
I worked with Keith Sweat on his Africa Only album release; it was great working with him. The experience was fabulous!
Apart from South Africa,where else have you performed?
London, various parts of Asia, Malaysia, Ghana, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Singapore, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland, United States but I still need to conquer East Africa!
And what experiences do you bring home from such tours?
A different look at life I guess. I get to meet people from different walks of life. I love it. I get to see life from different perspectives, which ultimately makes me appreciate Africa’s diversity as well as the global village.
While not performing, what else do you do? What is the other side of Lebo that the world is not aware of?
Lebo is quiet and fun-loving. I adore chilling at home with my family, my mom; Lebo Mathosa is different from the stage performer and actress. She loves to relax.
It has been touted that at times you indulge in drunken antics and cat fights with other artists, what do you say about this?
In the past I have been portrayed badly at times. Most is not true. I try to be a role model for younger people and do my best to give that good impression to younger artists and fans.
How is your family or society taking you?
It is because of my family and society that I am Lebo Mathosa. My parents are alive and well and very supportive of my career. My fans support, love and respect me.
Would you mind telling us something about your background?
I was born 27 years ago to Magdeline and Gerrit Mathosa, in a small town in Dayeton just outside Johannesburg. We now live in Johannesburg. We also lived in Pietersburg, northern part of South Africa. I went to Maboya High School and later to St Mary’s College in Johannesburg before getting into showbiz.
No, except I have a younger sister, she is like my baby, I love her to death!
Are there any difficulties you face that are associated with your kind of life?
Of course there are a number of things that are associated with this industry and those in it. But I can’t change the bad things in the industry and have to live with the fact that I am in the public eye and am constantly under scrutiny. Other than that, not really!
You won the 2001 Style Best Dressed Woman of the Year Award and was nominated by FHM Magazine as one of Africa’s sexiest women. You have been on the cover of almost every South African magazine and are regularly in the society pages of local newspapers. Do you have social statements in your way of dressing?
It is just my style! I like to look sexy.
What are your plans for 2005?
As is my habit, I want to be the best I can be so I may inspire young people to strive in attaining their goals. In future I would want people to one day say that Lebo was once a young lady with whose dreams were fulfilled. Dreams do come true! It takes perseverance and hard work. But any one can do it!