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.
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 1960s Soweto soul into what became the soundtrack to black consciousness.
“There was a void our music filled,” Mabuse says. 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.”
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 says.
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 says with smile. “I’m not about to stop walking on my road. I’m a voice in a space that speaks truth to power.”
For more information, visit www.hotstix.co.za. Alternatively, connect with him on Facebook or on Twitter.
Sidebar: I interviewed Mr Mabuse in 2003 for Zoopy and asked this iconic music what was his secret for longevity in this business. His answer was simply: "DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE". HE told me the work has to speak for itself and if your focus is the work then you will be around for a long time.