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‘Village Pope’ to release new album


Motsamai Mokotjo

Multiple award-winning jazz artist Tsepo Tshola is set to release a new album in March this year. The production is a follow-up to his 2012 classic, The Quintessence of Tsepo Tshola.

Tshola, who has dropped albums such as Lesedi, The Village Pope, Winding Rivers and Waterfalls and Reconciliation among others, spoke exclusively to the Weekender at his home in Maseru about his latest project. The veteran musician said he started working on the album late last year.

“This latest project which I started working on late last year, is yet to be titled. I am hoping to release it in mid-March, but I still don’t know how many tracks it will have,” said Tshola (62).

Tshola promised the album would be “different”, but would not say how.

“For me, obviously the new album is going to be different, but as always, I just write music from the heart without thinking of making ‘hits’. It all comes from here (indicating his heart).

“In terms of the production, I have worked with (South African music heavyweights) Hugh Masekela, Zwai Bala, Khaya Mahlangu and many others,” he said.

Asked how this new project would be different from the previous ones, Tshola said: “Clearly, this new project will be different due to the producers I worked with, but ultimately, the messages (of love, respect and culture) are always there. They are just portrayed differently as one grows and matures in life and music.”

Tshola also gave insight into what he believes constitutes a successful album.

“For me, music has to have a message and I don’t really pay that much attention on making hits, like I have said.

“These kids that make music nowadays just make one song and it becomes a hit, but quite honestly, I don’t really know what would make my album a fan favourite.”

The former Sankomota lead vocalist further said since he just writes music from the heart and is not interested in making hits, his songs  resonate with all sexes and age-groups.

“I don’t write music for a particular audience,” he said. “Mine is just to be inspired and driven by a concept and message in a particular song. And for me, I write music which crosses all genres,” said Tshola, popularly known by his fans as ‘The Village Pope’.

One of Lesotho’s most prominent musicians, Tshola has been in the music business for more than four decades. He started with The Lesotho Blue Diamonds as a vocalist in 1970, and then joined The Anti-Antics, Uhuru, and then Sankomota. “The musicians in all four of those bands were basically the same set of people going through ?different name changes and with a different set of challenges,” he told South Africa’s Drum magazine last year.

He continued: “Between Sankomota and Uhuru I joined Bra Hugh Masekela for a world tour.

“After the tour I met Julian Bahula, a South ?African musician based in London, while I was in Europe and I didn’t want to come back to South Africa. So I spoke to Julian and he organised air ?tickets to London for the rest of the Sankomota band members who were in South Africa at the time. I convinced them to come and join me in the UK. So, basically what happened is that Sankomota relocated to London from 1985 to 1989.

“We toured the whole of Europe and at one point we toured Germany playing ANC gigs for no pay. Anyway we thought we were never coming back home but back in South Africa they were about to release Mandela and that changed everything, so we started packing.

“Back in SA, we were soon on the road. Together with Bayethe we joined Hugh Masekela’s The Sekunjalo Tour after Hugh himself had returned from exile. That spelt the demise of Sankomota.”

Tshola then went on a solo career, and remains an icon in the music industry not only in Lesotho, but the entire continent.

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