Maleh: More than just a voice

Combining Mazwai’s soulful lyrics & Lira’s rhythmic poetry

Maleh’s latest album “You Make My Heart Go” produces music that is not that heavy on the palate and her soulful beats have a way of feeding your tastes – if AfroSoul is to your fancy.

Her blend of lyrics and sounds produces elements that infuse an African rhythm that is no longer common amongst young South African artists but is definitely missed.

She uses a live band to accompany her and this definitely helps in carrying her vocals without being overpowered by the instrumentals. Embracing the African elements of musical rhythm, Maleh stays true to her Afro-soul roots.

Her combination of Thandiswa Mazwai’s soulful lyrics and Lira’s rhythmic poetry is a clear example at Maleh’s attempt at following through with the elements required to build a reputation in a genre such as AfroSoul.

Cinematography Graduate

A cinematography graduate, Maleh, was born and raised in Lesotho. Her music career began with the group Kaya which won the 2005 Metro FM award for the best newcomer for its debut album “Kunzima” with the hit “Vulamasango”. She left the group to further her studies, finally returning to the music industry with her first album “Step Child” in 2011 and has collaborated with DJs such as DJ Kent and DJ Ganyani to name a few.

“Step Child” was nominated for the 2013 Metro FM Music Awards for ‘Best African Pop’ and ‘Best Contemporary Jazz’ categories. It also won the 2013 SAMA Award for the Best African Adult Album whilst also being nominated in the categories of Album of The Year and Best Female Artist of The Year.

Her second album “You Make My Heart Go” was released on 1 December 2014 with her title song becoming the driving force behind its success. One such example of this is in her song “Chimsoro” – a balance between the rest of her tracks ranging from moods of mellow soul and swaying dance.

“The different themes are always a reflection of the surroundings and events that have shaped me in my life. The overall sound is a combination of the harmonies and melodies I grew up listening to which comprised of beautiful traditional folk songs from my upbringing in Lesotho and the Afrobeat sounds throughout the continent as well as western popular music mostly from the 80s and 90s.”

But like with many other artists, Maleh believes that South African artists need more exposure in their own country. The lack of enthusiasm by many local radio stations and music television shows to showcase local talents in terms of air play is affecting the growth of musicians all over the country.

Suport Local Artists

“The best way to support local talent is to be willing to invest in the growth of the artists you love by buying the products offered. Insist on more local music in terms of the airplay on commercial radio stations and television shows because ultimately the listeners and viewers impact the decisions made.”

The South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) has taken the initiative together with the government to enforce regulations that compel local radio stations to play local music on air. Over the past 5 years about R500 million has left South African shores resulting in international artists receiving royalties of tens of millions of rands that could have benefited local artists but did not because of the lack of local music airplay. Initially the current quota that local radio stations are expected to follow is 80% local music and 20% international music but the statistics of the loyalties paid to local musicians and international artists has proven otherwise.

“The entertainment industry on the African continent in general is currently at a point of flourishing at a pace that it hasn’t in previous years. We are the generation of African artists that is fortunate to really be able to exercise the freedoms that previous generations have battled for. The freedom of expression and the ability and platforms that artists have today guarantee growth.”

This freedom of expression, however, is not recognized by local DJs and radio stations as they choose to ignore the 80% local music quota in favour of international music. Some DJs do not even bother to play a single local song on their shows and it is this behaviour that is affecting the South African music industry and the overall economy. DJs and radio stations play a major role in the publicity and the dissemination of local music and their reluctance to play local music is a kick in the face of the music industry’s development.

“I believe South Africans mostly have always shown pride in that which is their own, but I feel now more than ever South African artists really have a greater advantage to freely showcase their work and make their mark.”
This mark, however, will be hard to make if all the key figures in the dissemination of local music do not play their part in growing the music industry by promoting local music.

Much still has to be done in order to create a platform that will allow South African artists and their music to reach a popularity level similar to that of the West but Maleh still sees major opportunities for South African artists. “I hope and look forward to a long career, and more than anything I feel that it is more important that the messages the music carries reaches a greater audience in order that a contribution is made”.

Follow Maleh on Twitter: @Maleh_AfroSoul
Listen to her music on Soundcloud
Buy her music on iTunes