XXI South African Music Awards toasts SA music heroes past and present

Wouter Kellerman, Zim Ngqawana, Spikiri and Mdu to receive special awards 


Three local music legends, and one in the making, will be honoured during the XXI Annual South African Music Awards, taking place at the Sun City Superbowl on Sunday, 19 April 2015.

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards, sponsored by Amstel Lager, will be presented to kwaito pioneers Mandla “Spikiri” Mofokeng and Mdu Masilela, as well as the late jazzman Zim Ngqawana. World-renowned flautist Wouter Kellerman will receive an International Achievement Award for his Grammy-winning, chart-topping Winds of Samsara.

Wouter Kellerman became South Africa’s latest Grammy Award winner this year for his 2014 album Winds of Samsara, a collaboration with Indian composer and producer Ricky Kej, which won a Grammy for Best New Age Album. It is also in the running for two SAMAs at the XXI Annual South African Music Awards for Best Classical/Instrumental Album and Best Producer.

The album also notched up a remarkable feat by reaching number one on the United States Billboard New Age Albums Chart; it also topped the Zone Music Reporter Top 100 Radio Airplay Chart last July. 

His album Two Voices won a SAMA in 2011, reinforcing his status as one of the country’s true crossover artists who thrives on experimenting with the shades, textures and colours that his magic flute is capable of painting, and creatively blending them with other instrumentation and vocal sounds. 

Soweto-born Mandla Mofokeng, popularly known as Spikiri (meaning “nail”), is one of South Africa’s most influential kwaito pioneers. As a musician, singer and producer, his talents have been a cornerstone of the kwaito music sound since its inception. 

Spikiri has masterminded hits for the likes of Bongo Maffin, Kabelo, Teargas, Trompies (of which he was a founder member) and Thandiswa Mazwai. It all started when, as part of the disco duo MM Deluxe with good friend Mdu Masilela in the late 1980s, they introduced what came to be known as the township kwaito of today.

As a co-director at the Kalawa Jazzme label, he has overseen the careers of acts such as Mafikizolo, Uhuru, Black Motion, Boom Shaka, Brothers of Peace and Mahoota vs Vetkuk, and has also worked with jazz artists such as Don Laka, Moses Molelekwa and Hugh Masekela.

Equally pivotal to the evolution of kwaito is Mdu Masilela, affectionately known as “the godfather of kwaito”. From his stint with MM Deluxe, mixing township folk music with international dance music, he went on to record major hits such as Tsiki Tsiki and Mazola.

Masilela has since released a number of albums, and has also made a name for himself producing and arranging for other artists such as MaWillies, Mashamplani, Skeem and Brown Dash.

His influence on the development of the kwaito scene has been immense over the past 25-plus years, enabling a new generation of South African musicians to find their sound. By establishing an independent production company, he has ensured the creation of a distinctly localised form of kwaito that is closely associated with authentic township culture.

Taken from this life far too soon – in 2011, at the age of 51 – Zim Ngqawana was a man of integrity and without compromise, both musically and ideologically. This five-time SAMA-winning jazz artist refused to bend to the whims of the marketplace, earning him the respect of the industry and music lovers both locally and abroad.

Aside from being a prolific composer and producer, Ngqawana was a multi-instrumentalist of note; he was proficient on horns of all kinds (including alto, tenor and baritone saxophone), as well as the flute, piccolo, harmonia, bells and whistles, and melodica and piano. Add to this his emotive vocals, spicing up some of his tracks with chants and choruses, and you have sheer musical genius.

Hailed as the hardest working man in jazz, he was a trailblazer among the new generation of South African musicians that took a fresh look at the country’s jazz and traditional music heritage, keeping African culture alive and vibrant by reinventing and interpreting it.

Said Muckewa Tsanwani, Amstel Marketing Manager: “We are honoured to be celebrating four of South Africa’s leading lights at the XXI Annual South African Music Awards. All of the recipients are pioneers in their respective music fields, hoisting the South African music flag high and promoting authentic homegrown sounds.”

“Spikiri, Mdu, Zim and Wouter have done the South African music industry proud over the years. They have helped ensure that we do not remain complacent and stagnant in our music comfort zones, but instead challenge, break new ground and chart new territory in our country’s musical evolution. The South African Music Awards salutes these heroes,” added Mika Chauke, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Relations for the XXI Annual South African Music Awards.

The XXI South African Music Awards will take place at the Sun City Superbowl on 19 April 2015, and will be broadcast live on SABC1 at 20h00

For more information, visit www.samusicawards.co.za and find the nominated albums at iTunes.com/SAMA


·         The XXI Annual South African Music Awards is organised by the Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA).


·         The XXI Annual South African Music Awards is made possible with the generous support of official broadcast sponsor SABC1, Amstel Lager, official vehicle sponsor Kia Motors SA and event sponsor Sun International, supported by the National Department of Arts and Culture.

Sello Ramosepele

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