By Ogova Ondego
Published February 6, 2014
A member of the multi platinum-selling South African Afro-Pop group, Malaika, has released her debut solo album, Victory, on a Sony Music Africa label.
Speaking to ArtMatters.Info from the South African commercial capital, Johannesburg, Florence Matshediso Mholo (aka Tshedi), said Victory—that she says will resonate with listeners across Africa—is the accomplishment of a long journey towards a solo music career that she embarked on at the age of five. She says the album is eclectic.
“Victory is a recording that traverses genres and is delivered in Setswana, isiZulu, isiXhosa, Sesotho, Lingala and some Kiswahili and English,” says the 37-year-old artist who is coming out of the shadow of Malaika whose lead singer she was.
So what are some of the highlights of the 13-track album that was released on October 14, 2013 and is available on Itunes?
“It features songs such as ‘Umsebenzi’ and ‘This Song’ which have been serviced to radio stations as singles; ‘Jeemboro’ that I sang with Congo-Kinshasa’s Fally Ipupa, ‘Isithembu’ that features South African music icon Babsy Mlangeni, and ‘Heart Attack’ on which I collaborate with Jahseed of Bongo Muffin and which has connected with audiences very well during my public performances in Lesotho, Botswana and South Africa,” Tshedi, who is set to tour and perform in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, February 14-16, 2014, said.
Tshedi—who says she honed her vocal skills in various church choirs, at school and with village traditional gospel groups—rose to fame in 2004 when she joined the late Jabu Ndaba and Bongani Nchang in forming Malaika, a group that went on to become a national phenomenon on the South African music scene through multi Platinum-selling albums that won many coveted awards. Among the the trophies Malaika won included Best Afro Pop Album, Best Group, Best Album (Metro FM, 2004);Best New Comer Group (Kora All Africa Music Awards,2004); Best Afro Pop Group (Channel O Music Video Awards, 2005); Best Southern Africa Group (Kora All Africa Music Awards, 2005); Best Selling Album (South African Music Awards,Sama,2005); Best Afro Pop (South African Music Awards, Sama, 2006) and Best Afro Pop (South African Music Awards, Sama, 2008).
The Malaika trio recorded three albums—Malaika (2003), Vuthelani (2005), Sekunjalo (2007)—before Ndaba died; Mmatswale was done by Tshedi and Nchang in 2009.
Tshedi, who was born in a village called Boikhutso in Lichtenburg in North West province of South Africa, had met Ndaba and Nchang in a church choir in 2003 while she was teaching music and drama at the Mmabana Cultural Centre in Mmabatho.They decided to form the three-member Malaika group that was to not only dominate the charts and receive prestigious awards, but became much sought after for its live performances, gracing some high profile events and travelling extensively across Africa and the world, sharing stages with local and international music icons.
Her experience across the mother continent, Tshedi says, exposed her to pan-African sounds, rhythms and music genres some of which she has employed on Victory that, she says, makes the album resonate with Africans across the continent.
“Victory is my best work ever,” says the songwriter, composer, producer, singer and actress. “I gave it my all and have worked with the best songwriters and established hit makers. Through the 10 years of my life as a professional musician, the challenges and obstacles I have encountered have been set aside resulting in this amazing personal achievement.”
Florence Matshediso Mholo who says the resonance of her voice put her in high demand as lead vocalist who was often recruited by all sorts of groups who were certain to win singing competitions with her on board, promises listeners what she refers to as “the highest production standards, musicality, great entertainment value and cohesion” from Victory.
Saying she managed the whole process of the recording of the Victory album, Tshedi says, “I brought together some of the best music experts in the music industry—Sipho Sithole, Robbie Malinga and Mojalefa Thebe, Guffy Pilani, Thaso, The Duo-The Fareinheitz from Angola and Dj Choice—to realise my dream.”
But what sort of childhood did Mholo have?
“I grew up in an enabling environment where young people were free to experiment with music, dance and acting. Art in general was encouraged. We had fun and this helped a lot to hone my singing talent,” she says.
Florence Mholo holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education from North West University and formerly taught Arts and Culture and Life Orientation at Anchor Comprehensive School in Meadowlands, Soweto, on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Tshedi isn’t just any artist, or is she?
Matshediso Florence Mholo, who could be described as being visionary and focused, also appears to know exactly what she wants.
She has travelled widely across the world: Canada, United States of America, United Kingdom, Mauritius, Singapore, Dubai, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia, Congo-Kinshasa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Ivory, Coast, and Tanzania.
Tshedi, who was appointed UNICEF Celebrity Advocate in 2006, is part of—through Malaika—Nelson Mandela’s 46664 Concerts. One of the best groups in Azania, Malaika and Tshedi have performed at some of the most exclusive or high profile events like G8 Summit in South Africa in 2004, Kora All Africa Music Awards in 2005 and at the FIFA-organised event in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Despite her busy schedule as a wife, mother, recording artist, business woman and motivational speaker in schools, Tshedi plays soccer for female celebrity side of the Kaizer Chiefs club.
Her business side comes through in the fact that she publishes her own music under Kamoduktion Publishing which is administered by Gallo Publishing. She owns Leopard Queen Network (PTY) Ltd which she says “hosts events for women empowerment and government institutions.”
She starred in “Ga re dumele”, a Tswana comedy she says was aired on South Africa’s national broadcaster, SABC 2; she says she shall be featured again in more episodes of the drama in 2014.