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Retiring is going to be hard as music is like a drug to me: Rebecca Malope


MULTI-AWARD-WINNING South African gospel musician, Dr Rebecca Malope says retiring is going to be a tough task for her because of the attachment she has to her career that spans over three decades.

The 51-year-old revealed this while conversing with media personality, Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung during his Dinner At Somizi’s reality show this past Saturday. She was his guest on the show that was aired on DStv’s 1 Magic (Channel 103).

While making a Seafood Ciabatta kota, the two took time to discuss Dr Malope’s personal life, family, legacy and future endeavours. At it, Somizi tricked the musician into believing that popular South African nightclub, Taboo was a church. He also turned DJ Sky’s Khabaribebaba Fire house song into some sort of gospel song.

With 36 albums to her name, Dr Malope who is popularly known as the African queen of gospel or South Africa’s first lady of gospel, is one of the most established gospel artistes in South Africa and the continent at large. She has been consistent in her career and her growth has been significant through the number of awards that she has won. With so many success stories, retiring from the music industry is naturally going to be difficult and she admitted this saying she does not know how she will retire from the industry as music is like an essential drug to her.

However, she said when she does retire as will happen at some stage, she will rear chickens.

“I was thinking that when I retire, I’ll rear chickens, herd cattle and sheep and have a nice garden with vegetables as well. But how do you retire from music?

“With music, I could sing until the day I pass on like Mirriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, Mahlathini and the like. It’s as if music is a drug of some sort. If you don’t sing for some time, you don’t feel well. But then, I wish I could retire some time and stay at home . . . the time will come because I am old,” Dr Malope said.

Not shy to state her age, the multi-talented artiste said she is thankful to have reached 51 because a lot have failed, especially during this time when the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Thanks to God for keeping me alive until this far. That’s why I’m proud to say my age. Women are often shy to mention their age. I don’t know what they’re afraid of. Kugug’othandayo (You age because you like to).”

Asked about her character offstage and as a parent at home, she said: “I’m a good mum, but I’m an old-fashioned one who does not allow her children to be led by their rights. I believe that you ought to discipline your child so that they behave accordingly. Sleep outs are not allowed as long as you live under my roof.”

Society often expects gospel artistes to carry themselves in a certain way as they sing about holy songs, something Dr Malope said she has not been spared from.

“As Christians, we’re expected to behave in a certain way. We’re expected to live a different lifestyle as we’re treated to be different, but at the end of the day, we’re human. As a Christian at my home, we believe in the values of Christianity but at the end, we’re human. “We aren’t rigid to an extent that people feel like they cannot visit me,” she said.

Reflecting on her career, Dr Malope said her best-selling album was Shwele Baba which was released in 2009.

“Shwele Baba was number two and in South Africa, I was the only one selling that much. I was competing with Celine Dion at that time. In three days, it was double platinum. I also won an award (South African Music Award),” she said.

Quizzed how many South African Music Awards (Samas) she has in total, she said she had 21, making her one of the highest Sama-winning artistes. She said she has since lost track of the total number of awards she has.

On her recording studio which she set up recently, Dr Malope said it came after the realisation that she was spending too much money on record studios, hence she decided to set up her own.

“I realised that recording studios are too expensive when I was recording my 36th album. I booked a studio and they told me it was R4 000 to record for one day and I realised that it wasn’t even for a full day as it was from 10AM to 5PM.

“I thought to myself how much I would have spent altogether by the time I complete the album. I figured that it would be best to save money and build my own recording studio and I recorded my album.”

Asked who she would want to collaborate with, the artiste who recently did a cover version of Tellaman’s RnB hit song — Whipped — singled out gospel star, Ntokozo Mbambo.

On receiving an honorary doctorate, Dr Malope who has two honorary degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the University of California confessed that she did not understand how a mere musician would become a doctor.

“To be honest, I didn’t understand what an honorary doctorate was at first,” she said.

“I thought if they gave you one, they wanted you to open a surgery. I got an email from the University of California and it stated that they would like to honour me by granting me an honorary doctorate. However, because I wasn’t learned, I was confused as to what they were saying. I thought they had made a mistake. They probably thought I am already a qualified doctor and with a surgery.

“Then they explained that it was because of my work then I just said ‘glory be to God.’ I was proud and thankful to South Africans and the whole of Africa.”

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim lives on a daily basis with more and more people getting infected across the world. South Africa has not been spared as the country is among the top five countries with the most confirmed cases. As of yesterday, the country had close to 500 000 confirmed cases.

Dr Malope said she is faithful that this phase will come to pass.

“God is still good, we praise Him as He has continued to protect and spare us until now. Even in this difficult time where the world is uneasy and the coronavirus continues to kill many people. We have hope and faith in God that we will live past this, we will conquer,” the veteran said.

As a parting shot, Dr Malope, while taking non-alcoholic shots and cocktails that were named after her by Somizi, said she would want to be remembered as a woman with a big heart. She also thanked fans for supporting her over the years and encouraged them to remain safe during the pandemic.

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