The music industry is among the most stressful in the country especially if one is dependent on it to put food on the table.
Hundreds of recording artists have surrendered in defeat and watch helplessly as their products are being consumed for free.
However for one local producer, Solomon Boitshoko, music is more than just money; it is a natural thing whose rewards are far much better than money. Here he fields questions from the Voice.
Q. Please introduce yourself to the Voice readers.
I was born and raised in Lobatse, from the Bontseng family who are originally from Digawana.
Q. Would you kindly give a brief background of your music journey?
My interest in music developed at a very young age; I particularly had keen interest in gospel music and I remember I used to love Sammy Malete’s songs.
However it was not until 1992 when I met Matheke Leteane who introduced me to the art that my passion grew and I later learnt to play drums and played for the Assemblies of God band “The Saints Gospel Group.
It was during this time that I met a lot of artists like Shanti Lo and Punah Gabasiane.
Q. Ok; and how far did you go with the band?
I did not last that long because in 2002 I left for South Africa and it was during my stay there that I met Benjamin Dube’s drummer Themba Masiba who introduced me to some of the established gospel artists there.
I met the likes of Sfiso Ncwane and many other artists who also helped me grow as a musician.
I later enrolled at Vusi Mahlasela’s Music Development Foundation (VMMDF), where I studied piano.
In the following year I enrolled with UNISA to further my studies, unfortunately I had a car accident and did not complete my term.
Q. That must have been hard..?
It was, but I came back to Botswana and continued learning to play other musical instruments and with the help of guys like Joe Tanyala and Gavin.
I played with these guys and perfected my profession.
I had brought back a lot of theory material from South Africa, which I read and applied and today I play almost all musical instruments.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you used to play with the likes of Shanti Lo and Punah Gabasiane; these are well known names in the country, how come your name is not that well known?
Yes I played with them, including Shanti’s mom Mpho Loeto and I even played drums for Phempherethe Pheto.
My first gig was at a church with them. I think the reason my name is not on everybody’s lips is that I did not change genres like most people did.
I stayed with gospel music and as you know this genre is not receiving the generous airtime that other genres are receiving, but I’m not complaining.
Q. You are basically a music graduate, but you still don’t have an album. What are you currently working on?
I don’t think I will record an album in the near future.
I’m currently focusing my energies on plowing back my knowledge in to the community.
I have a group of young people I’m teaching to play musical instruments and I don’t’ charge for my services.
I have made it my personal goal to ensure that as many youngsters as possible learn to play different musical instruments.
I believe by doing so, I would have in a way helped shape the future of local music.
Q. Which prominent artists have you worked with?
I mainly work with gospel artists and currently have six artists in studio.
I have to make it clear though that I don’t discriminate, I also work with other artists from other genres.
I have done songs for Shumba Ratshega. I have produced for Bethesda Singers and my wife Charity’s debut album titled “O etla”.
Q. Talking about Bethesda Singers; the set up looks similar to what is being done by Joyous Celebration.
Is that where you heading to?
Not really. In fact we want to surpass that.
Like I told we are grooming youngsters and the intention is to see them grow to become solo recording artists and it is dream that I believe will be realised.
Q. Musicians are not making any money in this country unless they get support from government.
How do you cope especially that some of your services are rendered for free?
My inspiration to do music does not come from the desire to make more money.
I get my inspiration from God and perhaps that is why I have decided to focus on gospel music. |
My satisfaction comes from seeing a young artist I have nurtured become a successful and a useful member of society.
I have been working in churches all my life and will continue to do so.
It is important to let people know that even though I’m focused on gospel music, I’m more than that, I’m an artist.
Q. In your view what could be the reason artists are not making money in this country?
It is a tricky one. I don’t know whether it is due to our small population or our failure to penetrate the international market.
But in any case it affects everyone, but for gospel musicians they have to look at the bigger picture, that is to spread the gospel.
Q. You seem to be a deeply religious man. What do you think is God’s relationship with musicians?
A musician gives praise and worship.
The Bible is clear on music and tells us that even after the end of the world there will still be dancing and singing, so this tells us the life span of a musician is eternal for as long as he/she learns to develop a relationship with God.
Q. In the recent past there has been a spiritual revival of some sort among artists. Some of the prominent artists have dumped their night lives and are now Christians. What can one read into this?
It is all natural and such people should be encouraged to follow their heart and seek Christ.
What an artist does is to alter their life styles and live according to Christian principles but it does not necessarily mean they need to lose touch with the audience.
It is important however to let everyone who listens to your music understands that you are dedicated to living a clean life.
FULL NAMES: Solomon “Solly” Boitshoko
PLACE OF BIRTH: Lobatse
DATE OF BIRTH: I’m a Christmas child. 25 December 1977
MARITAL STATUS: Married to Charity and have two kids
PASSTIME: I love indoors, reading the bible and watching music videos
FAVOURITE HOLIDAY DESTINATION: I never think of going on holiday but if I do, it will be Israel
FAVOURITE FOOD: I love dumplings with beef stew and cabbage
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