By: Poelano Malema
Psalmist Sefako broke onto the music scene in 2009 with the release of his first album, ‘Unlimited Worship’.
His first live album, ‘Ba Founela Modimo’, saw his music dominate radio stations and even saw him joining the biggest Gospel ensemble, Joyous Celebration.
The award-winning artist got his breakthrough when he released his hit single, ‘Modimo Ke Lerato’, in 2018.
The following year he released ‘Oska Ntsheba Wa Nnyatsa’, a song that was loved all over Africa and praised by many celebrities, including Somizi Mhlongo.
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Sefako is known and loved for his unique sound and relevant messages in his songs.
He continues to write music that tackles issues that affect people from all walks of life.
We chat to him about what inspires his music and his passion about grooming upcoming musicians.
When and how did you discover your passion for music?
I am from a Christian background. I grew up in that environment so I can say that influenced my love for music. I was 12 when I discovered my calling of music. At the age of 12, I was already playing piano and singing in church.
What is your writing process?
Writing songs is a gift for me because it comes naturally. I don’t have a writing process because it comes in different ways. However, in most cases I love to write about what people can relate to. Something that I can see is happening in our environment.
How do you manage to write music that is appealing to both Gospel lovers and circular music lovers?
Gospel is good news, so good news must be for everyone. Jesus died for everyone. So, I always make sure that in each and every album I release, there are those songs that even people in clubs can relate to.
I saw that with ‘Ska Nsheba Yangatsa’.
As a result of the music I do, which is appealing to both gospel and circular lovers, I have faced a lot of criticism – from my very first song that gave me a breakthrough, ‘Ba Founela Modimo’.
How have you been dealing with the criticism?
I love criticism because as much they criticise you, there is something that you can learn from that. It makes you grow. Actually, I love criticism more than praise, because people can just praise you to buy your face, but you learn out of criticism.
How do you maintain your uniqueness while singing in Joyous Celebration, which comprises of so many talented musicians?
When you are on that type of platform, you have to search and look for what is lacking. The first meeting I had with Lindelani Mkhize, he said to me, “We called you here because you are different. So, I want you to stick to that because the moment you lose what we called you for, then you will no longer be set apart.” So, I can say that’s what made me succeed or what sustained me in that type of platform.
Even my language is one of the advantages. Joyous Celebration is full of Zulus and Xhosas.
Many of your songs blew up. How did that make you feel?
I did not see the hype in the song until I saw it everywhere. I was grateful. I was overwhelmed because I did not see all these things coming. Actually, the whole thing of music – where I am, the breakthroughs – I did not see it coming. So, it really overwhelms my heart, and I will remain forever grateful.
You are very passionate about mentorship. Tell us why?
Because I know how difficult it is as a Gospel artist, I just had this burden to go and search for those people who are still struggling to get into this industry and prepare them, because in this industry, if you don’t have a thick skin, it can kill you, it can destroy you. So, with the little experience that I have, I mentor people.
I also had a mentor, and this person has been mentoring me from an early age until today. So, I see, and I know the importance of mentorship.
Lucas Maloma is my mentor, and he will address me, and I grow out of his mentorship.
You just released your latest album, ‘The Latter Rain’, tell us about it?
With this album, I just decided to get out of my comfort zone. I had to challenge myself to sing other languages like Zulu, Xhosa, and Swati. Even the style and sound are different, and I can say I love what I am hearing. I wanted to give people a different flavour.
It has 17 songs and I worked with a variety of people, including Nosipho Phiri from Joyous Celebration, Siyakha Khitha, Takkie Ndou, and TakeSure, who does a beautiful worship song. It’s a beautiful album and I encourage people to go and get the album.
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Where do you see Psalmist Sefako in ten years’ time?
The vision is too big, but my main concern now is to pursue this burden that I have – the vision of helping upcoming artists and groom and produce them. I am a producer. I see myself grooming a lot of people and even musically, I have big dreams. I see myself filling stadiums, I have a lot of dreams about this whole career thing, and I believe that it shall be so.
What is your advice to aspiring artists?
I always say don’t do music or gospel music for money, because if you enter with that kind of expectation, it is easy to kill your dream, because when things are not going according to the way you expect, you get discouraged and that affects your productivity in music.
You need to be humble. I thank God that I saw all these levels – to be on TV, or to see people screaming, it does not change who you are. You need to always remain humble. Don’t allow pride, don’t allow all those things to overshadow your personality.
Lastly, I say let us continue to pray for our nation, let us trust God for healing because what is happening in our nation, I can say is painful and let’s continue to pray. Ask God to make things to go back to normal because we are suffering and in pain, but we know that he said in his word that if you call me, if you turn away from your sins, I will answer you and heal your land!
Image courtesy of Instagram/ @Psalmist_Sefako