Re­la­tion­ships – Mak­ing mu­sic to­gether

How do our fave muso cou­ples ride the some­what tricky tide of the mu­sic in­dus­try and stay the course?

True Love - - Content - By DIANA KEKANA

When mu­sic moguls Jay Z and Bey­oncé tied the knot in 2008, the world held its breath in an­tic­i­pa­tion for the lowkey lovers to col­lab­o­rate on more smash hits, as they had in the past. Al­most a decade (and mul­ti­ple chart top­pers) later, it seems the power cou­ple has fig­ured out how to set the stage and stu­dio alight with their pas­sion, while deal­ing with the oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ards of tour­ing, sleep ex­haus­tion and sound check strug­gles. Why else would they wake up each day ready to do it all over again – and look their hap­pi­est do­ing it? (Let’s for­get Lemon­ade for a bit – they seem to have moved on from it!) Mean­while, lo­cal sweet­heart Nandi Ma­dida and her mu­si­cian hus­band Zakes Bantwini are me­dia moguls in their own right. Ma­dida’s cloth­ing line, Colour, in ad­di­tion to her mu­si­cal prow­ess, and Zakes’ mu­si­cal ge­nius and po­si­tion as ex­ec­u­tive head of A&R for Sony Mu­sic Africa puts the cou­ple in lo­cal roy­alty ter­ri­tory “I have a very sup­port­ive hus­band. He’s the brains be­hind a lot of what I do,” gushes Nandi. “He has pushed me to do things that I never thought I could.” It’s all about bal­ance. “Oc­ca­sion­ally, the lack of per­sonal space strains the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cou­ple as they see each other both at home and in stu­dio,” ex­plains psy­chol­o­gist Lisa Zondo. “A mar­ried cou­ple should spend their free time to­gether, but there are sit­u­a­tions where be­ing in each other’s com­pany all the time can neg­a­tively im­pact the qual­ity of time spent.”

Zondo adds that shar­ing a work­place or hav­ing the same oc­cu­pa­tion as your spouse can come with risks. “Work dis­cus­sions can in­trude on fam­ily time, and vice versa,

and it may be hard to draw bound­aries be­tween work and home life.”

De­spite that, a re­cent study shows that spouses con­nected by work can pro­vide each other with a unique form of sup­port, mak­ing them hap­pier at home and more pro­duc­tive on the job. Just ask the legendary Cai­phus Se­menya and Letta Mbulu who’ve been mak­ing mu­sic since be­fore their half-cen­tury long mar­riage. They’ve over­come chal­lenges such as apartheid, their ex­ile in the US and keep­ing a mar­riage to­gether un­der the spot­light of their mu­sic.

The se­cret, says Cai­phus, is stick­ing to and re­mem­ber­ing the fun­da­men­tals – the rea­sons you got mar­ried. “There’s more to our mar­riage than just the two of us. We have chil­dren and busi­nesses to­gether and many other things in com­mon,” he adds. “If you have dif­fer­ing rea­sons for mar­ry­ing, such as ca­reer ad­vance­ment, money or beauty, then it won’t last.”

Pro­fes­sor Mered­ith Fer­gu­son ex­plains the ap­peal of shar­ing a ca­reer and workspace with your sig­nif­i­cant other. “When peo­ple un­der­stand their spouse’s work life and chal­lenges, it helps the spouse feel un­der­stood. This sup­port may help the spouse see things in a dif­fer­ent way and have pos­i­tive ef­fects both at work and home.”

Mafik­i­zolo’s Nh­lanhla Nciza is flour­ish­ing in the mu­sic in­dus­try with fans all over Africa, while her hus­band TK used to run a suc­cess­ful record la­bel. The cou­ple, who’ve been mar­ried for 13 years, don’t mind shar­ing the stage, as Nh­lanhla proved when she an­nounced the launch of her own record la­bel in 2015, prais­ing the sup­port of her dreams by her fam­ily. Stud­ies show that cou­ples who share the same oc­cu­pa­tion or work­place are likely to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the stresses of their spouse’s job be­cause they’re un­der sim­i­lar pres­sure them­selves. They may also be able to share spe­cialised knowl­edge to help with work-re­lated prob­lems.

“It’s nice to have some­one who’s al­ways in your cor­ner,” Cai­phus con­tin­ues. “We have been in many dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions where oth­ers may have cracked and looked else­where for greener pas­tures. We’ve never lost faith in each other, and have al­ways en­cour­aged each other.”

Letta speaks just as highly of her hus­band and busi­ness part­ner: “He’s a good per­son, kind-hearted and very well rounded. He’s lov­ing, car­ing, and tem­per­a­men­tal some­times but a good artist, song­writer and singer. It’s be­cause we’re in the pub­lic eye that peo­ple no­tice how long we’ve been mar­ried. There are so many oth­ers, we aren’t the only ones.”

A cou­ple works in the same of­fice puts in a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time and en­ergy into each other’s work, and con­trib­ute to the growth of their re­spec­tive ca­reers and are able to help each other, both at a pro­fes­sional and per­sonal level.

“Those who’ve been mar­ried and have worked in the same space over a long pe­riod of time re­spect their spouse’s con­tri­bu­tions, both at the of­fice and home, bet­ter than cou­ples who don’t,” says re­la­tion­ship coach Mimi Mo­fo­keng.

She says it’s due to the fact that some as­pects of a part­ner’s char­ac­ter can only be as­sessed when work­ing to­gether. “For in­stance, it’s only pos­si­ble to know whether your part­ner pos­sesses work ethic or earns money fraud­u­lently if you work to­gether. A few meet­ings or oc­ca­sional dates aren’t enough to as­sess whether your part­ner is a per­son of great prin­ci­ples.” Multi-award-win­ning singer Ali­cia Keys is cur­rently mar­ried to hiphop pro­ducer Kasseem Dean, bet­ter known as Swizz Beatz. The cou­ple got mar­ried in 2010, and have two chil­dren to­gether. While Ali­cia has earned many awards for her mu­si­cal ef­forts, her hubby has worked with the best in the busi­ness. How do they keep it pro­fes­sional? Nqubeko Mbatha and Ntokozo Mbambo Mbatha say they never let mu­sic come be­tween them, de­spite both hav­ing suc­cess­ful gospel ca­reers. “This re­la­tion­ship is the most im­por­tant thing – with­out it ev­ery­thing else will col­lapse,” says Ntokozo. “She’s the rea­son I go home. We base our love on re­spect­ing and be­ing hon­est with one an­other,” adds Nqubeko.

Mo­fo­keng warns to not let suc­cess get to you. That’s ex­actly what Lira and her hus­band, Robin Kohl – who man­ages the singer – says works for them. “We’re hu­man be­ings and we do reach boil­ing point. The good thing is that, when we do have those blow outs, we sort them out within an hour or two. We’re too close to let stuff fes­ter. I think we have a sys­tem that works,” re­veals Lira. Mo­fo­keng con­cludes: “If a cou­ple dis­agrees at work they can also clash at home, al­though per­sonal and pro­fes­sional en­vi­ron­ments are dif­fer­ent. If they fail to sep­a­rate their work and fam­ily life, their mar­riage may even­tu­ally break down.”

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