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Imagine driving under the influence and then getting stopped by a cop. Anticipating that he is about to fine you, you realise that you know him.
The arresting officer is none other than gospel singer Jonas Masotla. Do you then start sing- ing the songs off his debut album Emmanuel in the hopes that he let’s you go with a fine or do you start quoting scripture? Before you ponder on that a little longer than necessary, let’s put it out there, Masotla may be a man of God, but he is a cop also and so that means he has to uphold the law first.
“I am a chaplain for the police but unlike the others, I wasn’t outsourced. I am actually an arresting officer and so if I saw a crime happening I am inclined to arrest the perpetrators.
“I will then pray for them, after they are in behind bars, asking God for justice to prevail,” said cop and gospel singer Masotla.
Suddenly you are preferring the usual cop who will take the odd R50 to make it go away right? For Masotla, Emmanuel came as a result of a friend pestering him to make music for years.
“I started conducting a police choir in the late ’80s and that’s when I discovered my true love of music.
“My occupation in the force was to be chaplain, which meant it was my duty to be the spiritual leader for my colleagues. Given that we operate in a very dangerous job, we need spiritual guidance to see us through any given day,” he said.
But it would take almost three decades before the lawman would take the music he and his choir made and make it commercial.
“My friend, who is now the executive producer of my album, saw something that I did not in what we were doing and he convinced me that I should try and record a proper CD. I reluctantly took his advice and I was surprised by the response. We got so much support, to a point where I got wondering why I had not done this a long time ago,” he said.
For him the 17-track album is something of a personal project, which includes songs he penned and others that are traditional hymns.
“The title track is something I used to sing when I was young. This was my attempt to make the album as accessible as possible to both young and old people,” he said.
The gospel landscape has been good to him with radio giving him ample playtime and many venues are booking him.
This was gratifying, he said: “Given that I only released this album in December and already we are busy to a point that I am taking my music to the US soon.”.
Masotla is inspired by the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi and Sipho Makhabane and he tries to fuse their influences in his music.
• Emmanuel is available at most music stores.