When his career started just after the year 2000, gospel singer Thembinkosi Booi was set for the stars. He was good competition for then untouchable gospel sensation Lundi Tyamara.
Booi (pictured) made hits over the years and he seemed to be releasing albums steadily, until recently when it seemed the flow of albums stopped abruptly.
Now with Ikhon’indaba, the latest offering from the man – coming after the three or so years’ silence – we were curious what was happening when Booi was quiet.
“I have been going through some serious stuff,” he started in a low voice.
“I was married for seven years, but we got to a point in the relationship where I realised that we were pulling in different directions.”
With those marital issues draining his creative juices, Booi decided to put the music thing on hold and try to concentrate on mending his collapsing relationship.
“I stopped music to fix it all, but it got us nowhere.
“Everyone who knows me knows that I am a Christian – or a striving Christian, because I have faults.
“But living with someone who is completely opposite to you and your beliefs gets you nowhere.”
After talking to his parents – who bluntly told him that he would not be able to change his wife if she was brought up to behave the way she was allegedly behaving – Booi decided he would be better off alone.
Before you conclude that Ikhon’indaba is a melancholic tribute to this unfortunate break-up, it isn’t. In fact, Booi made a con- scious decision to dedicate this album to something other than his failed marriage.
“I tried to not bring my emotions into this album.
“Instead, I went to Joburg, sought out established music writers and asked them to write me songs.
“So, we had those people write material unrelated to my life and a solid 10-track album came out.”
And solid is exactly what Ikhon’indaba is.
The album proves why Booi is one of the best talents to come out of South Africa and why he has often been compared to Tyamara.
While he has tried hard to maintain the sound we associate with him, he has tweaked some things.
“I have maintained the same sound, but I have interpreted it in a slightly different way.
“In fact, I still do the sound that people like Vuyo (Mokoena) and Rebecca (Malope) are famous for, but I have done things differently on the vocals.
“People aren’t ready for new things and so I will not try to invent something new.
“Instead, I will just make slight changes to the working formula.”
There are plans to shoot a video before the end of the month and then his touring schedule will commence.
“The tour will definitely happen and I am taking this album as my first, because I am turning a new leaf.
“After the divorce with my wife, I had so many people tell me that nothing would come of it, but the album proved otherwise.
“I am forgetting everything I have done in my music career and am focusing on this new album.”
As for whether he was searching for love now that he was available, Booi said the time was not right yet.
“I may end up with someone one day, but for now I will not try. I just need to concentrate on my career.”
• Ikhon’indaba is available in music stores countrywide.