Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens
|Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens|
|Origin||Johannesburg, South Africa|
|Labels||Gallo Record Company (1964–1999)
Verve World/PolyGram Records
Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens (also known as Mahlathini Nezintombi Zomgqashiyo - Mahlathini and the Girls of Mgqashiyo) was a South African mbaqanga supergroup  composed of the following:
- The late Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde (1937–1999), a phenomenal singer in the basso-profundo 'groaning' style
- The girl group Mahotella Queens (1964–present), known for their fast-paced dancing and multi-part harmonies
- The instrumental team Makgona Tsohle Band (1964–1999), led by electric lead guitarist Marks Mankwane and alto saxophonist West Nkosi
The group that later became known worldwide as Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens was born out of the team of musicians working at Mavuthela Music Company, a division of the country's largest independent record label Gallo Africa that focused solely on producing music for the black South African market. Mavuthela was instituted at Gallo in 1964 and was headed by producer Rupert Bopape. Bopape, who had produced for EMI South Africa before joining Gallo, had already had successes recording popular artists such as the King's Messengers Quartet and female group the Dark City Sisters.
One of his most successful acts was Mahlathini, who was by now becoming the leading exponent of a style that was later christened groaning. The vocal style was performed by deep-voiced male singers in conjunction with five-piece female harmony groups and a backing band of instrumentalists.
Bopape formed a new group at Mavuthela, the Mahotella Queens, a team of female vocalists who became the country's most popular girl group during the late 1960s - mid-1970s period. The Queens, backed by the (also newly formed) Makgona Tsohle Band (which translates as the 'Band Who Knows Everything') and fronted on most of their records by Mahlathini (the 'Lion of Soweto') The band began by cutting 78 record copies of their first collection of songs and playing their music in the street, to recording hundreds of hit singles (many of them compiled into albums afterwards), touring South Africa and surrounding countries including Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Mahlathini also recorded solo material backed solely by the Makgona Tsohle Band, cultivating a distinct public identity as Indoda Mahlathini. Makgona Tsohle also recorded instrumental singles to massive public acclaim. The triumvirate - Mahlathini, the Queens and Makgona Tsohle - was extremely productive and popular as a cohesive recording/performing team until 1972, when Mahlathini resigned from Mavuthela following payment disputes with Bopape. The Queens, by now under the production of Makgona Tsohle Band guitarist Marks Mankwane, continued to record and perform to some degree of success throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, in spite of some membership changes. By the late 1970s, none of the original members of the Queens remained, although those who were then recording under the name had joined the group at various points during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Makgona Tsohle split up and its individual members, who had been mentored by Bopape, concentrated on producing the roster of Mavuthela artists following Bopape's retirement.
Mahlathini recorded for several independent labels until finally returning to Mavuthela in 1983. He found some success recording solo material and also joined forces with the Swazi-mbaqanga group Amaswazi Emvelo to produce some successful mid-1980s recordings. In 1987, following the success of various international releases relating to South Africa's music (such as The Indestructible Beat of Soweto and Graceland, the decision was made for Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens to reunite. The then-membership of the Queens was disbanded and three of its original 1960s members, Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola, returned to the group. In conjunction with a reconstituted Makgona Tsohle Band, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens recording a reunion release titled Thokozile and went onto record and perform to great international acclaim.
In 1998, band member West Nkosi was killed in a road accident. Marks Mankwane died in the same year, followed by the death of Mahlathini in July 1999, thus ending the group's existence. In spite of this, the Mahotella Queens recruited brand-new instrumental players to a new group line-up and continue performing and recording to this day, releasing successful albums such as Sebai Bai (2001), Bazobuya (2004), Reign & Shine (2005) and Siyadumisa (Songs of Praise) (2007).
Writing for the BBC Shaheera Asante noted "With their infectious, energetic beat, complex and experimental rhythms and flawless vocal harmonies, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens re-invented South Africa's urban music and gave shot of adrenaline to South Africa's then flagging music industry by creating Mbaquanga, a mixture of Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa music fused with Marabi also known as South African Jazz." Marks Mankwane of the Makgona Tsohle Band said in an interview "When we started this group. we decided also to start our own style of music, and that was Mbaqanga." he said. "So we decided to bring in Western style drums and more guitars and put the tempo up for dancing, and that's where the Western Influence comes in. On top of the band's rhythms was added the harmonies of the Mahotella Queens... To set off the Queens came lead singer Mahlathini's extraordinary rasping, deep bass voice". Chris Heim, writing for the The Chicago Tribune said "Mbaqanga (township jive) is one of the most spirited and joyous sounds in the whole world" and that the band had a "sweet, soulful sound marked by bright support vocals from the Queens and Mahlathini`s deep, deep goat voice leads."
"Visually also the band were dynamic. Mahlathini (often not wearing much more than his trademark leopard skins and very small lion cloth!) and the Mahotella Queens in their wild colourful traditional costumes (beads here, there and everywhere), were also fantastic dancers, known for their mad and flamboyant chorography."
Selected discography of albums
|Siyadumisa (Songs of Praise)||Bula Music/AS Entertainment (CDBULA 203)||2007|
|Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens: The Hits||Gallo Record Company (GMVCOM 1007)||2006|
|Reign & Shine||Wrasse Records/AS Entertainment (WRASS177)||2006|
|Kazet||Marabi Productions/AS Entertainment||2005|
|Reign & Shine||African Cream Music/AS Entertainment (ACM-CD 042)||2005|
|Bazobuya||Gallo Record Company (GWVCD 53)||2004|
|The Best Of: The Township Idols||Wrasse Records (WRASS098)||2003|
|Sebai Bai||Harmonia Mundi/Label Bleu/Gallo (LBLC 2571)||2001|
|Umuntu||Gallo Record Company (CDGMP 40788)||1999|
|Stoki Stoki||Gallo Record Company (CDGMP 40539)||1994|
|Women of the World||Gallo Record Company (CDGMP 40331)||1993|
|King of the Groaners||Earthworks/Stern's||1993|
|The Lion Roars||Shanachie Records||1993|
|Mbaqanga||Gallo Record Company (BL 742) (South Africa)
Verve World/PolyGram Records (511 780)
|The Best of Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens||Gallo Record Company (CDHUL 40274)||1991|
|Rhythm & Art||Gallo Record Company||1989|
|Melodi Yalla||Gallo-GRC (BL 617)||1988|
|Paris - Soweto||Gallo-GRC (HUL 40314)||1987|
|The Lion of Soweto||Earthworks/Stern's||1987|
|Thokozile||Gallo-GRC (BL 590)||1987|
|Menate Ea Lefatse||CCP Record Company||1987|
|Utshwala Begazati||Gallo Record Company||1985|
|Dithoriso Tsa Morena||Gallo Record Company||1984|
|Pheletsong Ya Lerato||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba BL 457)||1984|
|Khwatha O Mone||Teal Record Company (Hit Special IAL 4005)||1984|
|Kotopo Vol 2||Gallo Record Company (Spades BL 460)||1983|
|Mathaka Vol 1||Gallo Record Company (Spades BL 461)||1983|
|Amaqhawe Omgqashiyo||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba BL 448)||1983|
|Uhambo Lwami||Gallo Record Company (Motella BL 396)||1983|
|Tsa Lebowa||Teal Record Company (Igagasi IAL 3096)||1983|
|Hamba Minyaka||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba BL 366)||1982|
|Ezesimanje||Teal Record Company (Hit Special IAL 3034)||1982|
|Pitsa Tse Kgolo||Teal Record Company (Hit Special HIL 2004)||1982|
|Thatha Izimpahla Zakho||Teal Record Company (Igagasi IAL 3004)||1980|
|Tsamaya Moratuoa||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba BL 226)||1980|
|Best of the Mahotella Queens||Gallo Record Company||1977|
|Izibani Zomgqashiyo||Gallo Record Company||1977|
|Phezulu Egqhudeni||Gallo Record Company||1975|
|Umculo Kawupheli||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba LPBS 20)||1974|
|Marks Umthakathi||Gallo Record Company (Motella LPBS 9)||1972|
|Marena||Gallo Record Company (Motella LPBS 5)||1972|
|Makgona Tsohle Reggi||Gallo Record Company (Inkonkoni LNKO 2001)||1970|
|Isigubu Sabalozi||Gallo Record Company (Gumba Gumba LMGG 5)||1969|
|Indoda Mahlathini||Gallo Record Company (Motella LMO 111)||1969|
|Let's Move with Makhona Tsohle Band||Gallo Record Company (Motella LMO 104)||1967|
|Meet the Mahotella Queens||Gallo Record Company (Motella LMO 101)||1966|
- "The Best of Mahlathini & the Mahotella Queens - Mahlathini & the Mahotella Queens,Miriam Makeba". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "Mahlathini & Mahotella Queens - Stop Crying - champeta africana". NME.COM. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- Meintjes, L: "Sound of Africa: Making Music Zulu in a South African Studio". Duke University Press, 2003
- "BBC - Africa On Your Street - Hosts -". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "Womadelaide festival1993". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "SOUTH AFRICAN MUSIC". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- [ttp://www.ukrockfestivals.com/womad93-mahlathini.html "Womadelaide festival1993"]. Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- "Mahlathini and the Mahotella QueensThe Lion Roars... - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved 2013-10-12.
- AS Entertainment (Mahotella Queens management)
- Gallo Music South Africa (Mahotella Queens former record label)