Busi Mhlongo

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Busi Mhlongo
Birth nameBusisiwe Victoria Mhlongo
Born(1947-10-28)28 October 1947
Inanda, South Africa
Died15 June 2010(2010-06-15) (aged 62)
Durban, South Africa
GenresMbaqanga, soul, smooth jazz, soft rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer
Years active1960–2010
LabelsHouse of Memory, MELT2000, Stern Music, Sheer Sound, Chissa Records
Associated acts

Busi Mhlongo (28 October 1947 – 15 June 2010[1]), born as Victoria Busisiwe Mhlongo, was a virtuoso singer, dancer and composer originally from Inanda in Natal, South Africa.[1][2]


Drawing on various South African styles such as Mbaqanga, Maskanda, Marabi and traditional Zulu, fused with contemporary elements from jazz, funk, rock, gospel, rap, opera, reggae and West African music, she produced a fresh and exciting sound. Her infectious music and singing style have a universal appeal and her lyrics carry powerful and poignant messages. Her care-free way of performance included performing bare-foot.

In the 1960s, she adopted the artistic name Vickie; only later did she become known by Busi Mhlongo. She was an initiated sangoma, which heavily influenced her music.[3][4]

In the 1970s, Mhlongo relocated to London, later recording with other South African artists who were living in exile, such as Dudu Pukwana and Julian Bahula. By the 1980s, she performed internationally, performing with other well-renowned artists such as Salif Keita.

By the early 1990s, she began releasing her own individual works, with her first album, Barbentu, being released in 1993. A year later, she joined Hugh Masekela's homecoming tour.

In 1995, Mhlongo joined Hugh Masekela in the Africa '95 festival in London. In 1998, she released her second album, Urban Zulu, which became a hit in various markets around the world and reportedly spent months in the Billboard World Music charts.[5] She went on to release several more albums, Freedom (2003), and Amakholwa before her death from breast cancer in June 2010. Although physical-self isn't around, her energetic style of performance remains and can be seen through choreographer Somizi Mhlongo. Her music is a symbolism of the struggle for justice in South Africa. Her vocal range is incredible for she was able to go from a soft note to a booming roar. Due to her powerful activism against apartheid through music, Mhlongo was exiled therefore working and living in Netherlands, North America and the U.K. Busi sold half-a-dozen solo albums. Later during her career she became known s "Mam'Busi". During her youth, she joined the musical King Kong in Durban and was encouraged to play the drums. Her creativity launched her decision to create her band, Twasa. Her style of performance was inspired by Dorothy Masuka, Miriam Makeba but mostly Princess Magogo.

Tribute concert[edit]

One month before Mhlongo's death, a tribute concert was held at the Durban Playhouse, with all artists performing for free in her honour. The concert was titled "Behind The Legend", and featured Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Abigail Kubeka, Dorothy Masuka, Thandi Klaasen, Thandiswa Mazwai and others. The concert was created, produced and sponsored by iNgwenyama Holdings, a company owned by HRH Prince Makhosini Dlamini, a close friend of Mhlongo.

Personal life[edit]

Mhlongo was raised in a musically inclined family in the mountain village of Ohlange. She married drummer Early Mabuza, and they later had a daughter.[1] Due to Mhlongo's exile, she was unable to raise her daughter or attend the funeral of her husband, whose cause of death was murder.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Mhlongo was nominated for a Grammy and won three South African Music Awards.


  1. ^ a b c Tolsi, Niren (18 June 2010). "Subverting and owning maskanda". Mail and Guardian.
  2. ^ Harris, Craig. "Biography: Busi Mhlongo". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Busi Mhlongo, queen of modern Zulu music, dead at 62". Mail & Guardian. 16 June 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Paul. "Busi Mhlongo – Urban Zulu & Queen of Maskanda 1947 -2010". Mondomix. Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Freedom by Busi Mhlongo". Retrieved 5 December 2018.

External links[edit]