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Kgosinkwe, Theo (South Africa)  
Theo Kgosinkwe ©

BEING one half of Mafikizolo, one of South Africa's most established and successful groups for his entire musical life, Theo Kgosinkwe has some big shoes to fill with his debut solo album, I Am.

It would seem that this songwriter, producer and singer would be daunted by such a challenge, but it's one that he has grabbed with both hands.

I Am - a reflective title that profiles this talented young artist in more ways than one. Diverse, filled with inspiration, motivation and self-exploration, the album combines genres that Theo has mastered, dabbled with and made his own over the years. Bringing new life to his strengths as well as pushing his personal boundaries, Theo has embraced genres such as Afro-Pop, Gospel, Jazz and Dance and created 16 masterpiece tracks during his time in the studio.

His first solo album, I Am brings to life all that Theo has been hiding away behind the Mafikizolo mask. “I wanted this album to showcase all my skill and talents that God gave me, he says, “being one part of Mafikizolo didn’t give me the chance to show how diverse I can be.”

A true song-writer, Theo has spent his life creating perfect songs – for himself, his band and a host of South Africa’s top talent, including Busi Mhlongo, Vetkoek vs. Mahoota, co-writing with Dorothy Masuka, Hugh Masekela and many others. I Am reveals the versatility of his talent whilst allowing him to do what fills his soul the most – write beautiful music.

The decision to make a solo record was one that Theo had been toying with for many years. It was only after Nhlanhla, the lead singer from Mafikizolo decided to make a solo record that he decided the timing would be perfect for him too. Theo is known as one of the strongest song-writers in South Africa and through his relationships he found himself gathering the talents of a great deal of industry people, and got down to the business of making music.

Genre: jazz, afropop, gospel / spiritual
Also throwing in the freshness is dance producer Black Coffee, who worked with Theo on the track Love Is Not Enough. “Black Coffee brought a nice Deep House sound to the track, its different from what I have done in the past.” Another hot collaboration is the track Ngimtholile, made famous by jazz legend Don Laka recently. Written by Theo, the track features on both Don’s album, Invitation, and now Theo’s as well.

Theo also worked with another dance specialist, Art Jones, a strong influence on the more commercial tracks on the record. “It was brilliant working with him because he has done so much”. Theo says.

Art has worked with the late Lebo Mathosa and Theo found a great synergy with him, resulting in three tracks on the record being created by the collaboration – Beautiful People, Step Into My World and The Way (Ungakohona)

The collaborations didn’t end there – Theo also worked closely with Mnqobi Mdabe, part of the group Shana, who is also known for his great contribution to the current happening Durban dance scene. Mnqobi produced two tracks on the album - the Afro pop track Ndifuna Loya and a dance track Yeku Koyika. It’s worth mentioning that the gorgeous singer Zonke co-wrote the song with Theo .

When asked to select his personal favourite on the album Theo laughs. “They’re all my babies – I love them all”. But I think I’ve got two or three that stand out for me, like Uzophumelela. It’s a great inspirational song with a Gospel feel to it. It’s motivational and people need songs like that. When you are going through a difficult time a person can take a song like that and inspire themselves and say “I’m gonna make it!”

The Way (Unyakhona) is another special song dedicated to his wife Rose. “I love her the way she is, she doesn’t have to do anything to try to please me. She fell in love with the song the first time I wrote it and she knows that’s her song.”

The Way (Unyakhona) is another special song dedicated to his wife Rose. “I love her the way she is, she doesn’t have to do anything to try to please me. She fell in love with the song the first time I wrote it and she knows that’s her song.”

Another of Theo’s favourites is what he calls his ‘special song’ - Sizo Hlala Sithandana. “It’s a special song because last year when I was auditioning for some artists for my record I couldn’t find anyone. There was this young guy from Transkei called Fololo Malizole. He played a song that I liked a lot. I asked him if we could do the track together and give him that platform as a songwriter. I created a band for it and we worked together the whole time. It was great – I love giving people opportunities for tomorrow”, Theo smiles.

A spiritual man from a very religious background, Theo has always kept the light of his saviour close to his heart and completely believes that his success is largely due to his unwavering faith and belief. Married with a young baby boy, Theo has managed to juggle one of the most successful musical careers with a loving family life – all whilst keeping a down-to-earth and humble nature. He adores his wife, dedicating much of his work to her and of course to the Lord. “I Am, the title, he says, “ is a spiritual reference as well as being a literal one. “I Am is another name for God. I am the way the truth and the light. He knew who He was and I think the saying relates to me as well. I am Theo Kgosinkwe. I am a songwriter, singer and producer. I am fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God and I am who God says I am”.

Theo has a sense of liberation when talking about his new album. I feel like I needed to be free to do things the way I wanted to do them. “I Am will show people what I am all about – bringing my talent out and showing my diversity. People will now get to see the real Theo”

Theo Kgosinkwe ©
Theo Kgosinkwe - Some history

As a young child Theo would listen to the radio all the time. He laughs when he recalls how vividly he remembers sitting at the age of 5 or 6, imitating the deejays and radio personalities. “I think that was when I first started composing songs. I would listen to the songs and not know who sang them and write my own versions of the music.” Obviously a young talent, Theo grew up utterly immersed in music. Taking part in competitions, miming in talent shows and singing in choirs became his main pastime and eventually music became his main objective. Meeting Mafikizolo’s Nhlanhla, still a young inexperienced singer herself, was the first turning point in his career.

The two starry-eyed young musicians began making demos of their songs together and happened across a chance meeting with House music producer Oscar, who encouraged the twosome to try their hand at Kwaito. The band at that stage didn’t even have a name, but it was Oscar who suggested they name their band after the song Mafikizolo, originally from their first demo, securing them their record deal immediately.

The rest is history. Mafikizolo went on to be one of the biggest bands South Africa has ever seen, winning more awards than Theo can even recall, and experimenting with many genres of music, breaking into cross over markets and exposing the band to the stardom they had always dreamed of.

Mafikizolo is still a major force to be reckoned with in South African music and according to Theo, will be back with a new record soon. “I don’t want to say when exactly, I just know that we will get together when we have both finished our solo records’, he says.

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MODISE ON 083 260 3677

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  Recordings : Kgosinkwe, Theo
I Am

Theo Kgosinkwe - I Am

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