Celebrating a joyous 21 years
Gospel music was a neglected child in the music industry at the dawn of democracy, which was dominated by pop, House and Kwaito. This changed when a group of musicians joined forces to raise the genre.
Lindelani Mkhize, the managing director of Sony Africa, said: “I felt there was a need and a niche for real singers. We used quite a number of them as back-up musicians and we realised there was a lot of talent.”
Mkhize’s late mother, famously know as JB Mkhize, was a popular conductor for the Assemblies of God choir in D Section in Umlazi, Durban, so it was an easy fit for him to find a place in gospel.
With fellow musicians Mthunzi Namba and Jabu Hlongwane, who are choir masters, he came up with the concept of Joyous Celebration.
The country had its freedom and they felt that, despite the negatives, there was a lot to be celebrated, hence the name Joyous Celebration.
Some of the founding members were singers from Family Factory, including Margaret Motsage, sisters Vicky and Gift Vilakazi, Innocent Modiba, Steve Molakeng and Wendy Mseleku.
Along the way, singers such as Sibongile Makgathe, Sabatha Masoka and Kwaito singer Sharon D made their mark.
Twenty one years later, they still reflect the positive spirit of the rainbow nation. Their latest album, Heal Our Land, recognises that “South Africa is in trouble and needs divine intervention”, said Mkhize.
“The idea is for musicians to use Joyous Celebration as a platform from which they can grow wings and then soar as high as they can.”
Although young musicians get a minimum of two years to develop, he said that some had chosen to stay, while others had left.
“We always tell musicians that talent is not enough, but attitude is everything. This is what has kept us afloat, and popular with our fans and sponsors.
“People know what to expect when they go to a Joyous concert – they will be entertained by a group of professional artists.”
For Mkhize, the significance of the 21-year milestone is that it is “the work of God”.
They started this journey just to “close a gap” and did not expect to “still be standing after 21 years”.
Joyous Celebration will take their Joyous 21 concert around the country, starting at Gauteng’s Carnival City on Good Friday.
MAIN MAN Lindelani Mkhize is one of the founders and a conductor of Joyous Celebration