There are several people who get into the gospel music business for profit. It makes business sense to do so, since the genre is the top seller in South Africa.
Almost every musician tries the celestial music route but only a few of them do it to spread the good news.
Xolani M (pictured) is one of the few. His has been a journey full of disappointments and mishaps that have threatened his life but, fighting through all that with faith, the man used his experiences to pen inspirational songs.
“I have always loved music and sang in the choir growing up,” said the singer.
“However, while I would have loved to record an album the next day after high school, my family would not hear of it so I had to go and study law at university just to appease them. They would not budge on me doing music as a full- time career.”
While he did well at his legal studies, it took only two years before he succumbed to his passion and it soon became clear the man had to make a choice.
“I went with the music and my family was devastated. I knew somewhere inside my heart that I had the potential and had to prove that to them and myself,” he said.
The bold move turned out to be a good one because not long after that, Xolani M auditioned for a place in Joyous Celebration and was accepted. This was the spring-board he needed.
“I knew if I went to record a solo album after quitting school, it would be a good one, but I was unknown and did not know much about the industry. So Joyous Celebration acts as that ‘university’ where we all get to learn, in crash- courses, the ins and outs of the industry, and once we are done, we will be in a position to go out and do our own projects. So I went in the choir with that mentality and my expectations were met and I learnt a lot in the few years I was there,” he explained.
While for some members being in Joyous Celebration is as far as they can go, for Xolani M the choir had more to offer. After he joined, Joyous Celebration decided to look for young, funky singers in the parent choir to form a fresh six- member group called Dominion to attract young Christians.
Xolani M made the cut and Dominion went on to be a successful project. As there were only six members, Xolani M’s face and name became more visible and he began to build a following.
But it wasn’t long before all his plans were interrupted by a serious illness that threatened his life.
“I was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, which is a condition where the veins in the brain swell. The condition is rare and very few people make it out alive after a diagnosis and operation,” he said.
With no other option but to have the operation, Xolani M went in with an open mind, ready to die if his time was up.
“The operation was a success and I was awake on our way back from the surgery, much to the doctors’ surprise.
“I asked questions about how it went and they said everything was in order. It was when they took me to the ward where other people had had the same operation that I saw some people who had not woken up for six months and the doctors did not know when they would get up.
“I wrote the title track to my solo album, My Worship, right there and then as I had a lot to thank God for,” he said.
Xolani M’s album is a personal reflection that takes the listener through his life and struggles via the spiritual eye.
“I am a very spiritual being and I think all that happened, happened to prepare me for the My Worship project as now I have something to say about the God I believe in. My very life is a gift from Him and my gratitude comes out through My Worship,” the singer said.
• My Worship is available at music stores.