Moneoa Moshesh is turn­ing over a new leaf

Singer Moneoa Moshesh opens up about los­ing her way when she hit the big time, chang­ing her life and her plans for the fu­ture

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SHE was liv­ing the high life as the new It girl on the mu­sic scene that ev­ery­one wanted to know and be friends with. How­ever, with fame and money there of­ten comes a life of ex­cess, and a young artist can quickly find them­selves go­ing down the wrong path.

Afro soul singer Moneoa Moshesh is no ex­cep­tion. As her star con­tin­ued to rise she found her­self liv­ing the life of a rock star.

But she was los­ing her­self, she re­alised. She needed to take a break from ev­ery­thing – the mu­sic, the par­ties, the peo­ple – and find her­self again.

Now, two years later, the award­win­ning singer is back with a new al­bum, Ziphi’ Inkomo, a clear head and a fresh out­look on life.

Fame came too sud­denly, the 28-yearold Afro-soul sen­sa­tion says. She soared to star­dom with her de­but sin­gle, More than You, in 2012 and fol­lowed it up rapidly with hits such as Is’bhanxa and Pretty Dis­as­ter.

Sud­denly ev­ery­one wanted a piece of her. “I was over­whelmed by the spot­light, the in­dus­try and the fame,” she ad­mits. “I didn’t like who I was turn­ing into.”

The Mthatha-born star grav­i­tated to­wards the wrong crowd. “I found my­self be­com­ing ad­dicted to things that were not good for me. I’m not talk­ing about drugs, be­cause I’ve never done them in my life, but al­co­hol can be an ad­dic­tion, par­ty­ing can be an ad­dic­tion.

“I was ad­dicted to the wrong type of crowds. I wanted to be as­so­ci­ated with cer­tain kinds of peo­ple not be­cause it brought value to my life, but be­cause it looked good.” BY THOLAKELE MNGANGA PIC­TURES: PAPI MO­RAKE

And the money went out as fast as it came in.

“Wow, I used to go on spend­ing ram­pages. I used to go mad. I’d lose my mind in shops, clubs and restau­rants. I used to be the girl in restau­rants who’d say, ‘Guys, I’m mak­ing money now, I’ll pay’.

“I think that’s how I ru­ined my re­la­tion­ships with some of my friends be­cause they got used to me be­ing their blesser. Some of them ex­pected me to pay for ev­ery­thing.”

HER “aha” mo­ment came af­ter a night of hard par­ty­ing with some friends. The group went back to her place where they ran­sacked the place and pol­ished off every scrap of food and drop of drink they could find.

“They had no re­gard for my home. They opened my fridge, went through my cup­boards, and when ev­ery­thing was gone I was left to clean up the mess. They had no re­spect. They even messed up the beds and just left them like that.”

She re­alised some­thing needed to change. “I needed a lifestyle au­dit,” she ad­mits. “That was the last time I saw those groups of peo­ple.”

So she de­cided to step away from the spot­light while she em­barked on her jour­ney of self-dis­cov­ery. Her record la­bel, Bula Mu­sic, wasn’t happy at all, she says.

Moneoa spent a lot of time pray­ing, read­ing, writ­ing and ex­er­cis­ing, work­ing on her­self in the process.

“I un­cov­ered so many things about my life and my­self dur­ing that hia­tus.” Dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween real and fake friends was the first ben­e­fit of it all. “Peo­ple started call­ing me less and no one wanted to in­vite me over and I started see­ing peo­ple’s true colours.” To make money she did a few live per­for­mances and also earned an en­dorse­ment deal with beauty brand Lux. “I wasn’t mak­ing as much money as I was used to but it wasn’t bad ei­ther. I could still af­ford what I liked,” she says.

MONEOA’S roots are in Mthatha, where she lived un­til the age of five with her grand­mother, Esni Manini Moshesh, be­fore mov­ing to Dur­ban to be with her mother, Treaty, who was still study­ing. And this is where she got her first taste of the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try, she says. She started mod­el­ling at the age of six and re­ceived her first pay­cheque. “I think it was R25 000,” she says.

She moved to Jo­han­nes­burg af­ter school and did var­i­ous jobs, in­clud­ing pro­mo­tions.

Her singing tal­ent was dis­cov­ered by chance when she was 23, she says.

“I was par­ty­ing at a friend’s braai and the po­lice were called be­cause things were get­ting out of hand. The party ended but in­stead of go­ing home a group of us got into a car and made our way to a club in Pre­to­ria.

“On our way there we were all singing and the per­son sit­ting next to me, who even­tu­ally be­came my man­ager, turned and said, ‘ Why does it seem like you’ve got a bit of a voice on you?’”

She laughed it off but the next day her friend asked her to sing again and he later be­came her man­ager.

Moneoa is deal­ing with fame dif­fer­ently now. “I’m so laid­back. I’m liv­ing the life I did dur­ing my hia­tus.

“I’m com­mit­ted to my ca­reer so I will def­i­nitely en­gage what­ever I need to en­gage in terms of work but oth­er­wise I don’t need to go to every event, to be as stylish or to post every other day. I don’t feel the need to live up to peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions of me.”

In June she re­leased her new sin­gle, Ziphi’ Inkomo, off the al­bum of the same name.

Her new of­fer­ing is based on all her ex­pe­ri­ences, she says. “All the sad songs, all the happy songs, they are based on ex­pe­ri­ence. So if you want to know what a sis­ter has been go­ing through, get the al­bum.”

She’s also be­come an ac­tress of note, earn­ing ad­mi­ra­tion for her role on Mzansi Magic’s The Road as the feisty Dodo Baloyi. She’s due to make her movie de­but in the up­com­ing Back of the Moon.

“I’m not chas­ing fame,” she says. “I’m a smart girl, I know I’ll al­ways be able to make a liv­ing but I want to leave a mark. I want to make qual­ity mu­sic.”

Moneoa has big plans for her ca­reer. “I want my mu­sic to reach in­ter­na­tional sta­tus,” she says. “That’s why I stick to a spe­cific kind of genre. I re­ally like African mu­sic and I want the world to em­brace it. I see my­self win­ning Gram­mys in the fu­ture – I don’t just want to aim for Sa­mas. They are an hon­our of course, but I’ve got big­ger dreams.”

Oh, and now she’s had a taste of act­ing, she wants more of that too. “I also see my­self win­ning Os­cars – be­cause ndiyap

hapha, I am a drama queen!”

Moneoa says her days of par­ty­ing are over – she’s now com­pletely fo­cused on mak­ing mu­sic.

ABOVE and RIGHT: Moneoa played Dodo Baloyi in Mzansi Magic’s The Road. ABOVE RIGHT: Af­ter a two-year break Moneoa is back with a new al­bum, Ziphi’ Inkomo.

FAR LEFT: Moneoa says mom Treaty has been a great in­flu­ence in her life. LEFT: The young Moneoa with her grand­mother, Esni, who raised her in Mthatha un­til she was five.

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