Award-winning gospel singer Lebo Sekgobela, performing at the Samas held in Sun City last year. Matthews Baloyi

With just a week away to one of Mzansi’s most revered music awards, the 25th edition of the South African Music Awards (Samas), nominated artists are already gearing up for a win or a loss.

Two nominees under highly contended categories, namely best female artist of the year and best jazz artist category, gospel superstar Lebo Sekgobela and Tune Recreation Committee (TRC) founder and band leader, Mandla Mlangeni, both say that no matter how the cookie crumbles, they still feel honoured to be nominated.

Sekgobela, who is responsible for hits such as Lion of Judah, Thato Ya Hao and Theko Ya Lona, said she is mostly excited about her two nominations as they speak truth to the hard work that she has put into the album, Umusa.

She is nominated twice this year under the best traditional faith music album and female artist of the year where she is up against four other powerhouses Busiswa, Kelly Khumalo, Sho Madjozi and Zonke.

“Being nominated is added recognition to one’s work and like anyone else, I am grateful,” she says.

The star burst into the gospel scenes just after 2010, releasing her first album Ithemba Lami, which was followed by four more records that have put her in the heart of the gospel industry.

Her latest album, Umusa, was recorded with the aim of celebrating God’s grace in her life, “and also aimed at celebrating with everyone else who echoes these sentiments, that even though we sometimes don’t understand what we are going through, His grace is sufficient,” she adds.

Sekgobela is working on a new project, a hymnal album which is inspired by the fans titled Hymns and Worship.

“I will also be launching a new group of young female vocalists who go by the name of Worshipers Unleashed this year, so people can be on the lookout for that.”

Nominated band - TRC under the best jazz category for their album Afrika Grooves - say win or lose, they already feel like winners.

“Winning this award would mean being bestowed crown of glory for the most coveted accolade in the music industry. Win or no win, this still means we are among the cream of the crop of South Africa’s jazz industry. It is still an honour to have been placed on that pedestal,” Mlangeni says.

The group has been nominated under the same category twice in a row and that, according to Mlangeni, is affirmation of the great work TRC is doing.

“As the band leader, composer and trumpeter of the unit, I feel this nomination is already validation for us. The competition under this category is so fierce, but I feel incredibly humbled that out of the four albums that I have produced in the past four years - three have been nominated for the Samas thus far”.

Mlangeni also pointed out that their nominated album brings out the best of what South Africa has to offer.

The TRC features Clement Benny on drums, Nicholas Williams on bass, Reza Khota on guitar and Mlangeni on trumpet, while the multi-instrumentalist, Mark Fransman, joins in as the special guest in selected performances on accordion, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone.

The band, whose debut album Voices of Our Vision made the New York Times’ “Best Albums Of 2017” list, also performed on various stages such as the 18th edition of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival in 2017.

“The main aim of the nominated album is to build a documented heritage resource that challenges the notions of colonial bias while it seeks to expand a narrative of what cultural practitioners are capable of.

Afrika Grooves with the TRC seeks to acknowledge these communities not just in South Africa but in the entire continent.

“Ours is an attempt to create a sustainable platform and network that caters for composers and musicians in a pairing of creative partnerships and collaborations with multi faceted artists,” he said. 

@AmandaMaliba