By Mxolisi Mhlongo
In celebration of Africa month, Kaya 959 went on a journey to celebrate African talent that is usually sidelined by mainstream media. We interviewed four buskers from different provinces and they talked to us about their daily experiences and busking as something they do for a living.
In simple English, the term ‘busking’ refers to the act of performing in public areas or spaces for donations. The verb to ‘busk’ derives from the word busker and it comes from the Spanish root word ‘buscar’ with the meaning “to seek”.
Thulani Msomi, Anthony Skinner, Michael Baloyi and Edward Manana come from different provinces respectively. All these men grew up dreaming of performing for audiences around the world but life would not allow it.
Michael Baloyi: Michael is undoubtedly the best amongst the four and he already has an album released. He fell in love with the guitar at an early age and went to music school but has been struggling to get a record deal since he graduated from music school. He can play the piano, six string, and a bass guitar. Michael makes a living by busking and performing at weddings and family functions.
Thulani Msomi: Thulani is an experienced musician and has played with some popular South African bands around the globe but he decided to expand his knowledge and focus on his solo career. He regards himself as a Maskandi musician and also has been struggling to get a record deal. Thulani is a self-taught guitarist and he learned his craft from a homemade guitar that was made from an oil can, wooden block, and wires.
Anthony Skinner: Anthony was introduced to busking by a friend when his music career failed to kick off. He also has a few songs in an album that was put together as a pilot project by the Zone shopping Centre. Anthony told our team the reason he hasn’t really pushed for a record deal is that he wanted to mature as an artist and work on his craft.
Edward Manana: Edward was playing with a local band but things didn’t go as planned and he opted for busking just to make a living. With his experience as a busker over the years, he feels he is ready to put together his own band and release an album.
With such high unemployment rates in South Africa, the Musicians Association of South Africa suggests that young and upcoming artists should look into busking as something they can do to earn a living. Musician, activist and Secretary General of Musicians Association of South Africa Oupa Lebogo believes his organization has a solution for struggling musicians. “We want to create a platform where these artists can perform and generate a healthy profit from their performances and own rights to the craft they create. Masa wants to create a series of concerts for buskers and street performers in general that will help them sustain their living and showcase their talent. Here is the full interview with Oupa: