This month one of worlds, most admired and respected musicians – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse – is set to celebrate his official golden anniversary in the music industry. Fifty strong years that have shaped the space the thriving space we all call pop reality today.
Not only is 2016 a momentous year in Mabuse’s 50-year career immersion in music. Not only is it his golden anniversary of unwavering commitment and contribution to South African music, it’s been 32 years since his now 500 000 copy-selling single “Burn Out” changed the face and shape of Afro-pop and township jive like no other song or artist in local pop music history.
From his first group, The Beaters, and then Harare, through to his stellar solo career that spans the better part of his adult life, Mabuse’s half a century of resolute commitment to aural emancipation remains as infectious as each of his precious recordings.As the “Burn Out” maker and chart breaker, Mabuse’s primed to take his fans on a musical history lesson born out of the late 1960’s Soweto soul into what became the soundtrack to black consciousness. “There was a void our music filled,” Mabuse endorses. Mental emancipation took South Africans from a sense of passive helplessness into a world of pop possibility and strength through song.
“Our music served a much higher purpose,” he says when considering the foundation building years of his career in music. “We were all the sons and daughters of Africa, working on our strengths to take what we did to another level. As scary as those dark days were, through the 1970s, I remember them oddly fondly,” Mabuse recalls with a rue smile.
Between the many fans, including Hennie Oosthuizen of the then South African Security Police, whose job it was to keep an eye on the younger musical upstart, he like so many unlikely music lovers quickly became allies, the very opposite of enemies. “There are so many more wonderful stories, through my 50-year-long pilgrimage, that have made this extraordinary ride truly extraordinary,” Mabuse muses.
Between beats, political and social upheaval through a fair slice of the bigger pie that is Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse’s marriage to the music he makes so well, “we were all equally foolish and brave,” he says by way of explanation as to how he and his peers powered their way through to what today we all know and love as a free and fair democracy.
“We still have a role,” he defends with smile. “I’m not about to stop walking on my road. I’m a voice in a space that speaks truth to power.” And until that may or may not change, listen out. Things are about to get interesting, all over again if Mabuse’s got anything to sing about out it.
Thank you “Hotstix”, for the outstanding legacy. Here’s to the next, remarkable, fifty years of fantastic memories and even bigger hits.