Beyond Ma Eli: Insimbi ZeZhwane’s new tracks promise new chapter Insimbi ZeZhwane on stage in South Africa on Saturday

Mkhululi Ncube, [email protected]

THE Insimbi ZeZhwane ensemble has embarked on a new chapter beyond the Elvis “Ma Eli” era, marked by the debut of three tracks in South Africa. The unveiling of ‘Inhlansi’, ‘Ama Agenda’, and ‘Iso Ngeso’ took place on Saturday at the Hillbrow Underground in Johannesburg, an event that will serve as a barometer for the Rhumba community’s reception.

Band manager, Bahlanu SaGqumo Sibanda expressed elation at the impressive audience turnout, signalling a promising start to this new phase for the band.

“The show was oversubscribed; I have attended a number of Rhumba shows at that venue, but it has never been filled like it was on Saturday.

Everything went very well, even our supporting artists came to the party. We are happy with what transpired and even in terms of sales, it was like we were selling a full album. This was just testing the waters for now because our fans were very hungry. In November we will be back with a full album,” he said.

In discussing the new tracks, SaGqumo mentioned that they featured two vocalists: Frank “High Tower” Masuku and Ergan Nzima. He noted that while the group has retained its distinctive style, it has also adapted to the new reality of moving forward without the late “uMa Eli”.

“We used two vocalists to add some spice instead of using one voice. Having two or more vocalists will give us stability because when one of them is not available we can turn to the other. But Ergan lifted up his hand and showed us that he wanted to do it. I know many people did not expect that he will sing, but he showed us he is a leader,” he said.

Upon reviewing the tracks, it’s evident that the group’s rhythm has remained unaltered, a testament to Ergan Nzima’s adeptness on the lead guitar during live performances since “MaEli’s” departure. The musical composition continues to uphold the band’s customary use of proverbs and sayings, which are integral to their music.

However, a potential issue for some listeners may be the vocal clarity, necessitating heightened attention to fully appreciate the lyrics – a challenge that was also present during the late “Ma Eli’s”tenure.

“Our music arrangement is different and it is structured in a way that it is not a sing along in one day. That is what makes our music have staying power as fans will be deliberating on it,” said the manager when asked about the issue.

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