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MOSES DLAMINI WINS SAMA AWARD (article first published : 2003-04-24)

Lifetime Achievement Award recipients for Standard Bank SAMA 9 are Moses Dlamini, John Lindemann and Enoch Sontonga. This award is based on the significant contribution of an individual throughout his or her career to the development, upliftment and advancement of the South African Music Industry. The recipient should ideally have a minimum of 20 years experience in the music industry.

One of KZN’s most respected figures in the music field, Moses Dlamini dreamt about becoming a musician as a young boy growing up in Estcourt, This dream led him to Durban and then Johannesburg in 1960. The 62 year-old South African music producer is still a vibrant force within the music industry playing a pivotal and guiding role in the careers of upcoming musicians.

Moses began his musical life as a member of a band, joining forces with Simon ‘Mahlathini’ Nkabinde, Big Voice Jack Lerole, Elias Lerole and others to create a group that played Mbaqanga Jive. Several recordings later, during which Moses acted as vocalist even though the guitar is his real love, he teamed up with Hamilton Nzimande, Isaac Luvuno and Brown Duma to form The Big Four which cut an album that showcased their self-described ‘Monkey Jive’ musical style.

A move by Hamilton into becoming a producer for EMI (where the group had been signed) created a shift in focus and soon Moses and his fellow band members were acting as ‘talent scouts’ (now known as A&R) for Hamilton. In 1966 Hamilton moved over to the Gramophone Record Company (GRC) which sold electrical appliances but in the late 60s began releasing records. Hamilton and his team of scouts, including Moses, played a central role in finding and recording artists for GRC, many of whom scored big hits.

In 1968, Moses was officially given the title of ‘Salesman’ and carried on with his talent scout work for many years. Then, in 1974, his friend Titus Masikane approached him to help find a recording contract for a group of four youngsters from Hammarsdale in Natal. They were David Masondo, Zakes Mchunu, Duza Mthethwa and Mpompie Sosibo, initially known as the Young Brothers. Once a recording deal had been secured, with Moses’ help, with GRC the group changed their name to The Soul Brothers.

Hamilton was a little reluctant to record the group as the only sound from Natal that was hitting the mark with music fans was ‘mbube’. Still, the group’s mbaqanga sound found its way onto recordings, with little success initially. One day, after returning from a sales trip, Moses found a very dejected group standing outside the GRC offices, with a piece of paper in their hand. It was a clearance from the record company that the group were free to find a home somewhere else.

Instead of sympathising, Moses was spurred into immediate action. He approached MD Percy Galembo and told him he was making a mistake by letting the group go. As a fellow Natalian and someone who kept his ear on the ground at the record bars, Moses knew there was space for a Mbaqanga group to make an impact. When Galembo gave Moses the challenge to make The Soul Brothers work or lose his salary for a year, the inspired Moses took the bull by the horns - and the rest, as they say, is history.

With the assistance initially of Hamilton, and then on his own, Moses turned The Soul Brothers into one of the most powerful music groups in South Africa. His first album as producer was Usathane. Released in 1976 it became an instant hit and Moses left behind his ‘salesman’ days and became strictly a producer and A&R man for GRC.

From the year 1976 to 1989 Moses was the producer of almost 14 Soul Brothers albums remains to this day a devoted fan of Mbaqanga music and the Soul Brothers in particular. Other acts that benefited from Moses’ skills and caring attitude were Izinkunzi (a soul group), GT Chauke (at one time a serious threat to the famous Thomas Chauke) and TsaTsawane, a Shangaan soul act whose successes revealed Moses’ ability to work in other genres as well.

Moses is still in touch with the Soul Brothers, acting as an advisor whenever required. But since the mid-90s, he has been working for himself, as a freelance producer, and as his own A&R scout, unearthing talent wherever he finds it. One such example is Ihashe Elimhlophe, now one of South Africa’s most respected Maskandi artists, who has worked with the likes of Jabu Khanyile and many others

For many artists in South Africa, there is no doubt that Moses Dlamini played a vital role in helping them create great and lasting careers. For The Soul Brothers Moses’ was in many ways the ‘George Martin’ of the group, a group that remains a significant force on the SA music scene so many years after it was established. And for his current acts, like Ikhansela No JBC, this delightful individual continues to shape, and guide their career in the best possible way. Indeed the music genres of Maskandi and Mbaqanga have truly been the beneficiaries of this remarkable man’s vision and belief in bringing the music of his beloved Kwa-Zulu Natal to a broad audience across South Africa.




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