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.
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.
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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