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ATHARI – from backing band to fame

Last week I discovered ATHARI, the band that backed the legendary Lesotho born artist, Tshepo Tshola. ATHARI was born in 2015 but, the band has been together for over 10 years as a backing band of Tshepo Tshola. The band recorded 3 albums with Tshepo, before deciding to stand on its own feet. “As a backing band of this legend, we realised how much as a band we’ve grown and needed to establish our own identity as a band and get a sound that will resemble what our country has been longing for”, says the band spokesperson Lundi Nkosi ka Mxadana.

Who is Tshepo Tshola?

Tshepo ‘The Village Pope’ Tshola,  first captivated the world as the leader of pioneer Afrobeat group, Sankomota. Originally named Uhuru, Sankomota was according to Wikipedia formed around 1976 in the ‘mountain kingdom’ of Lesotho. When asked what Sankomota means, Frank Leepa is on record saying that it is the name of a mighty warrior from Basotho and Bapedi people. Sankomota was the first band to record an LP in Lesotho. They were recorded by Lloyd Ross and Warrick Sony of Shifty Records on November 11, 1983. The album was self-titled; Sankomota and it has 9-tracks and it is under 50 minutes long. (Wikipedia) Tshepo Tshola later broke away to begin his solo career. The title of his debut album is where he gets his nickname from, ‘The Village Pope‘.

Well, let me return to the main topic, ATHARI, the band that transformed from backing band to fame. ATHARI is an Afrocentric Jazz Band, based in Johannesburg. ATHARI is a young, vibrant band that aims to bring something fresh to Afro sounds. According to Lundi, athari is Swahili word which means ‘impact’.

Listen to Nuances on music.apple

In 2016, Letsela Entertainment took the band under their wings. Their first agenda was to take the band to a 2 week musical camp, “We went to two-week musical camp where the band worked on the sound that is built especially for this offering (Nuances). So every member of the band was allowed to write a song or track that’s why the album is so diverse and has different types of sounds. Hence the title ‘Nuances’ which stands for new sounds.” said Lundi. Nuances was released in 2018 and has eleven tracks.

“The album was recorded at Jazzworx Studios,” says Lundi, “we featured some of Mzansi’s greatest session musicians in the likes óf Bez Adams on trombone, Sydney Mavundla on trumpet Mthunzi Mvubu on saxophone and Godfrey Mgcina on percussion.” The album was produced by Mpho Kodisang and Mawande Gabriel Stuurman. Mpho commented, “It was a great experience working with different characters who are very talented and have great ideas. It made it easier for me, giving me a concrete foundation to work on.”

Listen to Nuances on YouTube

The ten-member band is indeed quite versatile as exhibited in this fine musical specimen. “S’khumbuzo Mbele who wrote Power of Inspiration is on drums, Mangaliso Nhlapo who wrote Valencia is on bass guitar, Philpot Nqikela who wrote Gugulethu is on lead guitar, Mtaka plangana Mpho Kodisasng wrote Thando, Mawande Stuurman wrote Mendi Road as well as Tribute (Kabelo and Kele), Lundi Nkosi ka Mxadana wrote 321 Highland Road, Zandile Ophelia Hlatshwayo wrote Lerato la Pelo yaka and Bonolo Mokubung wrote Ha o kgotsofale.” says Lundi.

ATHARI (Facebook)

To get in touch with ATHARI, send them a message on their Facebook page.

In conclusion, Lundi says, “The coronavirus truly disturbed many of our plans as a band but all is not lost. We still have a lot of faith that this is only the beginning”. Indeed, there is no limit for this young band, and here on Afrique Beat, we wish them all the best.

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About Constance van Niekerk

Constance van Niekerk, (Connie V) is a creative writer, poet, music lover, spoken word artist, freelance writer, blogger and educator. She has contributed to several anthologies and published her own collection, Echoes of My Heart: A Poetry Collection available for purchase on all Amazon Stores Worldwide. Follow her on Twitter : @convanniekerk Connect with her on Facebook and Linkedin.



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