South African musician, Ringo Madlingozi, arrived in Kigali on Wednesday, promising a grand performance when he headlines the highly-anticipated Kigali Jazz Junction’s three-year anniversary concert at Camp Kigali, today, June 29.
The “Sondela” hitmaker was accompanied by his entire band.
In an online interview with The New Times on his flight to Kigali, Ringo talked about the hit song, “Sondela”, his musical inspiration, and what he has in store for his Kigali fans today.
How did it feel when you learnt you would be performing at the Kigali Jazz Junction?
I was first and foremost very surprised that people in Rwanda know my sound and they know me. I was honoured and yes, I got scared a bit, wondering if they are going to enjoy my music as they enjoy it on radio or on CD. But yeah, I can’t wait!
“Sondela” is by far your most popular song in the East African region. What is the song about, and what inspired it?
“Sondela” is a beautiful love slow jam that talks about how beautiful a lady is. “Sondela” is like … get closer. The guy is very much admiring the girl’s ways … the way she walks, the way she talks …, her eyes and everything.
What should your Rwandan fans expect at the show?
Whenever I perform, wherever I am, there are many people I’m doing it for, and it doesn’t matter, I just do my best all the time, and I’m sure that they’ll get the vibe. I hope that they move with me, groove with me, and connect with me, as I always connect with people.
You have kept relevant in the cut throat music industry for more than three decades. What explains this longevity?
I managed to stay relevant and afloat because I make sure I use the sounds that the youth use and I got to listen to different sounds that were coming in and that are currently loved by all people, young and old. I also listen to young people to find out how they hear the music and how they interpret it so that I’m with them. Most of all, I sing about love, unity and togetherness, and most people relate to that.
Do you still work on new musical projects?
I’ve been in hiatus for some time now, but I’m getting back to studio working with the producers that I’ve been working with, but no collaborations. It will be just Ringo bringing back his sound, but with a current way.
You are known to sing only in your native Xhosa language. What informed this decision on your part?
I used to sing in English and I didn’t sound like myself, until I met Chris Blackwell who was the producer of Bob Marley. We spoke for about an hour and I played my music for him, and he said to me ‘Ringo there is no Xhosa sound here and there’s no Xhosa lyric. Why are you doing this?’ I said no I’m singing in English because I want everyone to understand me.
Then he told me that my inspiration (Bob Marley) sang in his Jamaican patois, and sung about places he knew, people he knew, and everything like that. So sing in your own language, talk to people, and then when they hear you, everyone will understand you, whether they know your language or not. That’s how I did it.
Lastly, what keeps you busy, away from the music?
I read a lot. I’m an artiste 100 per cent, or even 3,000 per cent. There isn’t anything else I’m doing professionally. Whatever I do is all about music. I’m also working with young people, visiting schools, talking to them and actually motivating them to believe in themselves.
You know that most of Africa had been colonised in the past, so we have to come back and revisit ourselves, and I’m pushing that so people understand that we are ourselves before we are anybody else, and telling young people that the origin of civilisation is Africa. So they should understand that and they should be proud of who they are. That’s what I do with my life, besides singing.