Artists rally around Madosini to ensure she is honoured, gets income from her work
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Johannesburg - Power to The Women was the first global album released by internationally acclaimed legendary folklore singer and songwriter Madosini.
The national treasure, who has made a name for herself playing indigenous South African instruments, is re-releasing that album with the help of ALT BLK >>, a community of artists that seeks to develop, support, release and archive music by alternative and independent artists.
One of those artists who is making sure Madosini (Dr Latozi Mphahleni) is honoured correctly and receives income from her work is singer and songwriter Msaki.
Her relationship with the folklore giant began five years ago at the RiverSong Arts Festival in the Eastern Cape.
“Our relationship has grown organically. I have been organising festivals, especially in the rural communities in the Eastern Cape, collaborative festivals focused on kids and whatever creative entities were supporting, whether it be the University of Fort Hare, Steve Biko Centre or music academies.
“I was always trying to bring artists that weren’t only going to perform but have a workshop element. We wanted the kids to spend time with Makhulu Madosini.”
In one of those workshops, Madosini hosted an uhadi-making workshop where traditional musician Mthwakazi taught them how to play and performed a concert.
“I had also booked utakhulu Madala Kunene as well. So our relationship started when we did that RiverSong festival five years ago. I met her because I booked her but then my life changed after that because I had met the most enigmatic, warm, good spirited, hilarious, incredible artist.”
After getting to know her, Msaki made sure she kept in touch with her through her manager, and whenever she was in Cape Town she would organise shows where she could be part of them.
“She is at retirement age now so I started organising shows in honour of her so that we would play and make the money, then send it to her. Our relationship grew in that way.”
Madosini made the news in late 2019 after falling ill while in France, and the creatives that were helping her ensured she and her family were fine.
“It has been that kind of growth, from a professional to a more caring personal level. Once I got to know her and understood some of her struggles with her situation, we wanted to be more practical in helping her to make sure she has a monthly income.
“Also, to have something that can bless her children and grandchildren that she is taking care of now, in the future. The idea to put her work back up online, that she has received back from M.E.L.T 2000 where she was signed in the early 1990s and early 2000s, was so she could earn money for herself through her own work that she has already worked for.”
UK-based label M.E.L.T 2000 has also released titles from artists such as Busi Mhlongo, Amampondo, Madala Kunene and Carlo Mombelli.
“The fact that M.E.L.T 2000 had returned the masters (tapes) of the artists who were part of that stable was great but now, if you’re in your old age, what is the point of having them if you can’t use them to generate income? So I am helping the elder have a presence online and that means it translates to income for her.”
Msaki is working with distributor Platoon, an artists’ label services company that deals with independent artists.
This album marks the first of three albums which will be released in the latter part of the year.
In another effort to help Madosini, non-profit organisation RootSpring Music based in Cape Town has started a fundraiser to build the icon a home.
“They put together a campaign for her as supporters and organisers of niche music shows. They had been archiving and documenting Madosini’s work and wanted to make Madosini’s wish – which is to go to the Eastern Cape and retire and live at home in eLibode – come true,” said Msaki, who is part of the Madosini home committee that was formed over the past seven months, consisting of architects, media representatives and videographers, among others.
She said the fundraising came as a response from the community around Madosini that knew where she lived at the moment and that the place was not fit for someone of Madosini’s calibre. “The first attempt was last year in June and I think everyone was trying to grapple with the reality of lockdown and the campaign struggled. Now we are making sure people know about this fundraising campaign and that people can donate towards it. RootSpring has been co-ordinating all of us, making sure we don’t give up on this,” she said.
The goal is to raise $59 500 (R883 000) and people can go onto the FundRazr website under “Build Madosini a Home” to see how they can help; alternatively email [email protected] for more information.