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If you have the memory of an elephant then you’d know who Tender Mavundla (pictured) is. She started out in 1997 and the Port Shepstone sensation rose to fame by winning the Jam Alley’s Mega Star competition.
She had been promised an incredible R60 000 and a Sony deal as part of her prize, but word got out that she only received R3 000 and that was the end of it.
A decade later, undeterred, Mavundla entered another TV singing competition, Idols SA, hoping to change her luck. The fans and the judges loved her, with Mara Louw even equating her to Brenda Fassie.
It is on this show that she revealed she was HIV-positive and had been living with the condition since 2001. She later explained that she had publicly revealed her HIV status in order to help those who were in the same situation but living in fear.
“If you do not speak about it it eats you away. I decided to talk about it so that we do not live in fear of something that is manageable. I understand why I am this way and I thank God for the lessons that came with it,” she said.
Still determined to push her music, Mavundla went on to release an album, Tender Moments, which did fairly well, but she admits it wasn’t her best offering.
“I was all over the place on that album. I imitated a lot of people and tried out different styles so much that in the end you had no sense of who Tender is,” she explained.
“I knew I could sing, but singing alone is not enough, you have to have some sort of direction,” she said.
But now, with all the dust having settled, Mavundla is in a calm place and has just released her first gospel album called Gospel Moments.
“This is a very personal album where I am talking about the countless second chances God has given me.
“I was a teen who was rebellious and lived alone in Joburg. I made all the wrong choices, from drinking to party- ing, which was a process of growing up.
“So there are a lot of songs here where I talk about my relationship with God with respect to my growing up,” she said.
While some artists shy away from talking about their favourite tracks on their albums, Mavundla said she had two songs she loved equally on Gospel Moments.
“I love Foreigner (Sons Of God) because I think I just murdered the song,” she said, laughing.
“I also like I Surrender because it features my little sister whom I live for. Everything I have ever done, from coming out to making music, I did it for her. I really want to give her all I can as a big sister. She also features on another track, Ezulwini, and I think that’s another hit, too,” she said.
A few videos and tours are in the pipeline for the Gospel Moments album but the CD is available at your nearest music store.