Tshenolo Sebogodi: I found something many yearn for, fulfillment!

More than anything I believe I was called to do this, I have found my purpose. Click To Tweet

Most of us are familiar with Afro-jazz  which is a style embedded in the African traditional music and dance. On the other hand we also have AfroSoul, it’s fairly new and its a blend of African Folk and urban Soul. Tshenolo Sebogodi was raised in this type of genre. She grew up in a township called Montshiwa in Mafikeng, North-West South Africa and generally she is a lover of arts especially music, of course. Despite being a law graduate, the optimist is pursuing a career as a songwriter and Afro Soul/Jazz singer.

Tshenolo definitely has big dreams for herself and she says it’s made possible by her child and husband who are her biggest cheerleaders. Tshenolo is also a true believer who lives by faith and with the support she has, there is every reason for her to keep going.

Tell us about your album Journo. What is the story behind this name?

Journo is my upcoming debut album that consists of songs that l wrote myself. The title Journo depicts articles and journals about my life experiences and those around me in a musical form. It was inspired by the transformations we all go through in life. I seek comfort in music, so all songs have a significant meaning from a particular period in my life.

The album is very inspiring and motivational. It talks about hardships we all go through of feeling inferior, being afraid of dreaming , being afraid to have a voice and most importantly not conforming to society’s expectations. It talks about how great each of us are and how we’re all capable of achieving our goals. Also, it highlights the beauty of each season we go through in life and embracing every moment, even the bad times.

Have you always loved the art of music?

I have always loved the art of music from a very early age and have known all my life that I was born to do this. I was born in a very musical family and was exposed to classical music but fell in love with jazz music when I started performing 10 years ago. My family is also academic, I then had to take a break from active performing to obtain my LLB degree. Even during years of schooling, I knew the end goal was to be a

My family is also academic, I then had to take a break from active performing to obtain my LLB degree. Even during years of schooling, I knew the end goal was to be a full-time musician, that’s what kept me going. It was a bit of a shock to everyone when I put aside my qualification to pursue the art of music, still is to most.

It was a bit of a shock when I put aside my qualification to pursue music - Tshenolo Sebogodi Click To Tweet

How has your life changed since you started your music career?

My life changed dramatically when I officially began my music career. It was a pivotal time in my life, more like a make or break situation. My faith, my ability and even my talent was tested. The period of transformation from being a normal individual and completing studies in record time to pursuing music full time was a drastic change. I was obviously expected to practice law and possibly be a judge one day, but that was not what I was called for I believe.

In that period, I was questioned by many and was told that I live in an imaginary world of my own. Not only did I have to fight to get my music career off the ground, I had to seek inspiration from within and fight for what I believe in when everyone else thought I am living in dreamland. More than anything I believe I was called to do this, I have found my purpose.

With all the challenges and backlash received I found something many yearn for, fulfillment. I have so much joy in my heart, things still aren’t easy but I wake up each day looking forward to another chance to reach my goals.

Tshenolo Sebogodi 3

You had the opportunity to perform at the 4th annual Mahikeng Jazz Festival alongside the most revered legends in SA music, how do you do it?

When I get the opportunity to perform at jazz festivals such as the Mahikeng Jazz Festival/Mapungubwe Jazz Festival to name a few, I perform along side legends.

It does get overwhelming at times, I mean these are people I look up to and have been following for years. It gives me affirmation that I am heading towards the right direction. I definitely still observe and take tips and learn how they perform so that I’m able to be a legend one day.

You have gained a lot of support from family, friends, and even strangers. What does this support mean for your journey as an aspiring Singer?

Although self-belief comes first, getting support from my loved ones means everything. It means the world when your support structure is solid. There’s so much uncertainty that comes with the job, it really is crucial to have those that have your back no matter what. It took my family and most of my friends time to understand and eventually lend their support. There had to be a family intervention before my parents eventually understood, my husband had to help me take them through it. Today my family and friends are my biggest supporters and I draw strength from their words of encouragement.

Getting support from strangers was overwhelming in the beginning, unlike family, they don’t have to listen to me. When I see strangers paying attention and enjoying my music, I get goosebumps and literally get more inspired to give it my all. It truly does boost my confidence on stage and as a songwriter. I just want to get better and make good music for people to enjoy.

bctt tweet=”Self-belief comes first but getting support from my loved ones means everything – Tshenolo Sebogodi” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”]

How do you feel like when you play one of your songs and people applaud? Is it an affirmation?

When I get an applause from the audience I truly want to do better and be better. As artists, all we want is to make music and be heard, to get applauded is truly a cherry on top.

What gives me affirmation though is the conversations I have with the audience either after a show or listening session. When I am able to leave my audience feeling a particular way and set the desired mood is what I aim for. That to me is the reason I do what I do.

Tshenolo Sebogodi 1

What are some of the challenges you come across and how do you overcome them?

There are many challenges I have come across in the entertainment industry. I am relatively a new artist, I still am up and coming. Being new in the industry is hard, introducing yourself to the world is not an easy thing. I’m in the Afro-jazz genre and already I had to learn to stick to my genre when most people believe other genres would suit me best given my age.

What I also battled with was realising how I can’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Not an easy thing to understand in the beginning. Not every producer and even promoter will understand the direction I’m trying to take and that is okay.

What kills most of us as new artists is “exposure”. The free gigs we do so often is to some degree abuse. Most people don’t understand or even know the time and effort and money it takes to deliver a performance. A lot goes on in terms of image, sound and presentation. When there is no remuneration, even getting to the next job becomes a mission and at the same time, we’re expected to take effort in how we look and deliver.

I get through all these challenges by making sure my music and presentation is quality. That makes me stand out and most importantly earns me respect from the audience, promoters and even interviewers. I also don’t lose hope and never allow myself to be discouraged.

What kills most of us as new artists is 'exposure' - Tshenolo Sebogodi Click To Tweet

Best advice given?

“DO YOU! Create music you believe in, someone out there is listening and needs to hear your music, just the way it is.”

Many have tried to dictate my genre and even my image, with the reason that it will sell quicker. I have had opportunities to do what I don’t believe in for popularity but always withdraw. My faith is beyond my understanding at times, I strongly believe that I will grow and continue in my path. I will be much more than even I expected to be, without compromising my beliefs.

What are your goals/dreams in life?

My goal in life is to embrace and promote African music across the globe.To inspire young children to stay in school and use the opportunity given to them to enrich their minds and be educated. I also would like to actually do my Masters in intellectual property so I am able to venture into my own business that deals with the music industry and the law. I want to touch people’s hearts through my music and inspire everyone to be a better version of themselves.

My goal is to also help the disadvantaged children through arts and take them away from drug abuse and teenage pregnancies in poverty stricken homes. I grew up in a township called Montshiwa in Mafikeng and a lot of our peers were involved in gangs and drug abuse at a very early age. There was a lady that took most of us in and started a dance group called the “Montshiwa community dance club”. We got to perform at a lot of events in and around Mafikeng. That took us away from the streets and literally kept us on our toes. I also would like to open a community arts centre in rural areas to help assist with social problems.

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Adomaa Music: Dare to be different and unapologetically you


Adomaa is a Ghanaian fast rising afro-jazz singer  who is known for her distinctive style of singing, insightful messages, and creative video concepts. This sensational artiste who believes that music is her drug has chosen to pursue a genre which is totally different from what people are used to. Though she faces disapproval from people who do not relate to her style of music, Adomaa still holds on to what she loves and believes afro-jazz is the next big thing. Judging from the recent Vodafone Ghana Music Awards show where she won the 2016 Unsung Artiste of the year, we believe Adomaa is underway to success.

Why did you choose the afro-jazz music genre?

I wouldn’t exactly say I chose the genre. It’s who I am and how I know best to express myself. I grew up on a lot of jazz, blues, and soul till it became part of me. When the decision came to pursue music as a career, it’s what came instinctively. Still staying true to my love for jazz, I wanted my Africanism to be represented in my music as well. So, I decided to fuse the Jazz sound with African rhythm, hence the name: Afro-jazz!

What makes you think this genre is here to stay?

When I started, I was truly stunned by the overwhelming response from the public. I didn’t think anyone cared about the type of music I did because it isn’t mainstream. The feedback though made me realize that there’s a huge market for Afro-jazz here! It’s still in its beginning stages but it’s catching on. It will soon become a staple!

What would you do if this genre does not get and hold the attention and crowd you expect?

I don’t think that will happen because like I said so far, the feedback has been massive. It can only grow and it is growing. Nonetheless, even if no one was ever interested, it’s still where I will be because quite frankly, it’s who I am. I can’t change who I am.

How is Afro-jazz different from the other music genres? Why should we look out for this genre?

Afro-jazz is simply a unique blend of jazz, blues, soul (basically vintage music) with an African rhythm or flavor to it. Jazz is not a popular genre of music in these parts and even outside, it’s still somewhat low key. The fusion is very different from what we are used to hearing. It’s music like you haven’t heard before. It’s a refreshing, fresh and unique. Who doesn’t want all that?


Which other musicians are taking or have already taken the Afro-jazz route?

It’s still fairly early days to say any artiste, in particular, has taken this route. But there’s this super talented singer, Cina Soul that has released some music along those lines. Also, I haven’t heard of anyone before me doing what I do. It’s a new wave of music that I’m proud to say I’m pioneering.

Tell us Adomaa, is your type of music for everybody? What’s your target audience?

Music is universal and Afro-jazz is no different but for now, I think it boils down to preferences. It will take sometime for some people to warm up to it but it will catch on eventually. A classic example is dancehall. Who ever thought it would be the most popular genre in Ghana? My target is everyone! For now, though, I’d say the people who appreciate it the most are the middle class to elite groups of people.

Since you started singing, what has been your major challenge and how did you handle it?

My biggest challenge since I started has definitely got to be my stage fright. I used to dread live performances and would have panic attacks and meltdowns but the best way to overcome an obstacle is to face it. There’s been a tremendous improvement over the months and it can only get better in the years to come. I love being on stage now.

What is the worst thing anybody has said about your type of music?

It’s boring and for old people. Oh, but that’s about to change.

There were some rumours about how you did not deserve to win the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards unsung artiste of the year, how did you handle this issue? What provoked this rumour?

Ha! This issue… Well, you know I started out with doing covers and recreating other people’s songs. It’s what put the spotlight on me and probably what most people still know me for. In the category I was in, the other nominees (Feli Nuna, Wan-O, Ebony, Nii Funny and Perez) were more deserving because they have put out original content. I have original content out as well but I guess the covers are more popular.

Some people didn’t even know I had my own songs out there so there were questions about why I was nominated in the first place. For me, negative comments fuel me. It made me want to challenge myself even more to sell the genre till it becomes a household name. It’s my main goal now.


How do you react and respond to criticisms?

I listen, sieve through to see if there’s anything to learn, take the constructive ones, discard the chaff and move on with my life.

Why do you think your type of music is critiqued?

It’s different. It’s a change from the normal. People don’t welcome change easily. That’s normal. It takes a while to embrace what you don’t understand. The criticisms are to be expected when you decide to break away from the norm.

Have you ever considered switching to another genre?

I’ve explored a little. My EP, Afraba was solely for that. I tried pop, rock, highlife, classical music, etc. but my heart still belongs to Afro-jazz. Of course moving forward, I’ll still venture out some more but at the core, Afro-jazz is who I am and who I’ll always be.

For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words.

  • New
  • Creative
  • Different
  • Afrocentric
  • Refreshing

Where would you really like to perform? Who would you most like to open for?

Madison Square Garden and the Grammy’s. That would be a milestone for me.

Opening for Asa or Erykah Badu would be major! I doubt I’d be able to sleep after that.

Do you play any instruments? What hidden talents do you have?

Yes! I play the recorder. It’s in the flute family and I’m currently learning to play the guitar and would want to learn the sax too.

With hidden talents, I’m very good at nailing accents and impressions. I’ve mastered the British, Indian, French, Nigerian, American, Italian and of course, Ghanaian accent. It’s a fun hobby learning them.

What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career with a unique genre like yours?

In two words. Be you!!!

People try so hard to fit in because they think it’s the fastest way to make it. I say, yeah you’ll make it but will you last? No one can do you better than you, so be you! Also if you must, dare to be different. It sets you apart.

What’s your motto or the advice you live by?

If you dare to be different and unapologetically you no matter what and always keep a positive outlook on life, you’re basically going to be unstoppable.

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