AfriQueen Spha Mdlalose on Her Journey & Staying Grounded in Art

Spha Mdlalose, buzzes into the kunifrankstudio in Pardon Island, Cape Town, where we are shooting for the day. We’ve hand picked some incredibly interesting and special afribeings to profile, and jazz singer Spha was a definite on our list of need-to-know local talents.  She has just flown in from JHB and the bustle of the Golden City seems to have arrived with her. Her eyes are sparkling and she’s full of chatter!

“I need to sit down.” she says breathlessly. There are some stairs outside, and Spha is in her third trimester of pregnancy .

What strikes us most about Spha is her absolute earthiness. She is confident, yet incredibly down to earth. Having worked with the likes of Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Micasa, Oliver Mthukudzi, Neo Muyanga, Zwai Bala, Sibongile Khumalo, Kabomo, Afrotraction, Monique Bingham, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and other formidable artists in the music at such a young age, the list of achievements is extensive and impressive.

We chatted to Spha and got to find out a bit more about who she is:

Spha Mdlalose, stands in between two pieces of art adorning creative space, kunifrank studio.

Do you remember the moment you realised that jazz would play a great role in your life?

I think it was in high school when I was asked to sing for my school’s big band. There was something about the music that resonated with me on such a deep level.

Most memorable singing experience to date?

There are quite a few! The first one that jumps out at me is performing at the Greenpoint Stadium before a game. The stadium was full to capacity and the energy was electric. I was buzzing before I even started performing!

Another memorable performance happened last year during a gig that I was doing with Zoe Modiga and Titi Luzipo (together we’re called Brew). The gig was to honour the late, great, Busi Mhlongo. While I was singing one of Mam Busi’s songs, Thandiswa Mazwai jumped on stage and started singing with me. She gave me a huge hug and I just stood there completely gobsmacked!

What is still on the list? Who would you most like to perform or collaborate with as an artist?

World domination is still on the list! I’d still love to travel and take my music to as many places as possible. On the list for 2018 is definitely (and finally) releasing my debut album. In terms of future collaborations, I’d love to collaborate with Fatoumata Diawara, D’ Angelo, and Richard Bona, although the list is endless.

What is one piece of advice you will pass on to your son?

I really want to instill a sense of confidence in him from a young age. I want him to know that he can do whatever he puts his mind to. So perhaps it’s not so much advice but more of an attitude?

Where does your inspiration come from?

It comes from lived experience mostly. What I’m seeing, feeling, going through. Sometimes it’s also based on the lived experiences of those around me. Love is also a great sense of inspiration, the beauty of what we see around us.

What gives your life meaning ?

Gosh. My family and my loved ones. Being able to do what I love every day. I realise that not everyone enjoys that kind of life and that kind of freedom.

Spha Mdlalose says her afribeing power has helped her stay grounded and sincere in her art.

How can we support the local music industry ?

  1. Going to shows and not asking for comps and/or free entrance.
  2. Buying local.
  3. Spreading the word and promoting local music in any way that you can. This involves using social media platforms!

Who is your favourite local designer?

There are so many! For clothes I love Palesa Mokubung, Inga Madyibi, Asanda Madyibi, Rich Factory, Jane Sews and Anisa from Loin Cloth and Ashes. I love For Lornes and Pichulik  earring, as well as handbags by Urban Mosadi and Missibaba. Oh, and Melissa shoes!

How do you unwind?

I spend time alone, either watching a movie or going out for lunch. I also love checking out new vintage stores and charity shops.

Spha Mdlalose, believes connfidence is key. A behind the scenes sneak peek of Spha, looking
striking in front of Afribeing’s AFRICAISNOW banner by Ana Kuni.

How has your Afribeing power helped you on your journey?

It has helped me stay grounded and sincere in my art. It’s a great privilege to do what I do and to have the ability and the power to evoke emotion that makes people feel a certain way. This is something I don’t take for granted.

What do you feel can we do as Afribeings to encourage and support creativity in Africa?

I don’t know if there’s much more we can do but to support creatives by choosing to buy local/punt local and encourage those around us to do the same. Africa is buzzing with ideas and creative minds in all industries, so it’s all about how we can promote ourselves, and export what we have to the world!

Photography: Jane Louise
Creative Direction: Lindi Hingston and Liza Weschta
Afribeing: Spha Mdlalose
Wardrobe: Inga Madyibi dress and Iyana Styling dress





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