Octogenarian tunes up for new album launch

Tsolo gogo proves age is nothing but a number ahead of milestone debut occasion in Cape Town next month

PREMIUM

It was while making umqombothi (traditional African beer) on the streets of Nyanga East in Cape Town, that an 85-year-old Tsolo gogo was discovered for her African traditional music talents.
Mantombi Matotiyana, who has since toured the world with a South African traditional music group, will release her debut album, Songs of Greeting, Healing and Heritage in April.
Matotiyana has gone on to prove that age is nothing but a number as she fulfils a lifelong dream.
Having performed internationally for 18 years with Dizu Plaatjies and his band Amampondo, Matotiyana will launch her album next month with a solo concert in Cape Town.
Matotiyana, who is described by Plaatjies as the “queen of music”, showcases her versatility on the album through her singing and accompanied by traditional African instruments and singing.
“Amampondo were the jump-start to my career. Their founder Dizu Plaatjies scouted me when I was selling umnqombothi on the streets,” the singer said.
That was how I fed my children and grandchildren. Brewing umnqombothi was my way of life and I never thought that in my wildest dreams that I would get to travel on an aeroplane – let alone explore countries around the world for years on end,” said Matotiyana.
Matotiyana says that starting out on her musical journey as a professional had been difficult.
“I was so reluctant at the beginning, all I knew was how to provide for my family through selling umnqombothi.
“When I was told that I could do that through music, I was in disbelief and did not trust the process. But through some persistence, I was able to play my instruments freely and confidently.”
The seasoned musician grew up in a humble homestead where Matotyiyana says she used to play these instruments and sing as a hobby.
“I used to play umrhube while growing up as a hobby. I never thought that my instruments would take me so far and that people would be interested and engage in the type of music that I play.
Plaatjies, a lifetime achiever award recipient and manager to Matotiyana, had only good things to say about the songstress.
“I grew up in a nearby village and she was well-known for her amazing singing. I saw her in Nyanga East and realised that she had to be on the world stage. People needed to see her perform,” says Plaatjies.
Matotiyana says she will forever be grateful to the people who saw the potential in her.
“Dizu saw through me when I was picking up papers on the streets too, just to earn a bit of more money. I am not even educated but he stuck to his word and reassured me that all would be well,” said Matotiyana.
Songs of Greeting, Healing and Heritage will be launched on April 9 in Cape Town with a live performance from Mantombi...

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