Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent
After three years with Jah Prayzah’s Third Generation band, Thobekile Nleya seems to have settled in, but the artiste says the showbiz industry is no piece of cake.
Popularly known as Excavator, Nleya who was a gospel artiste joined the band as a replacement of backing vocalist Pamela “Gonyeti” Zulu who had fallen out with her former paymaster in 2016.
Fortunately for Excavator who was raised in Lobengula West in Bulawayo, Jah Prayzah’s fans embraced her as she was equally talented and very beautiful.
However, the vocalist who was recently featured on Jah Prayzah’s Chikomo video said compared to what people think the music business is not all play as it has its own challenges.
“I’ve learnt a lot and being with the band has made me a better musician. I must say, I thought the music business was easy, but I realised that if you don’t work hard, you’ll always feel the constant need to pull others down.
“I’ve learnt that hard work can take you places,” said Excavator.
“Since joining Third Generation, I’ve been working on myself, bettering my vocals and dance and basically fitting into the band.”
She said although she is happy doing what she loves – singing – she is disheartened that there are some people who belittle her.
“The stigma that comes with being in a band is what’s disheartening sometimes. People will always refer you as that girl from the band. Those words alone are just degrading. People don’t understand that being in a band is just like any other job as music is also a career,” said Excavator.
Last year, Excavator had a health scare after she injured her leg during a gig.
The incident that occurred during Alick Macheso’s Dzinosvitsa Kure album launch at Aquatic Complex in Chitungwiza put her out of action for some weeks.
During that time, she said she thought it was the end of her career.
“Before I visited the doctor, I felt like it was the end of my career. But when tests were done, I knew I was going to be ok. It was quite a huge relief and I concentrated on getting better so that I’d be back on stage.”
Looking back, Excavator said she would tell a 16-year-old Thobekile that she should follow her dreams no matter what people say.
“I’d tell a 16-year-old me that ‘you should never ever live for people. They’ll always talk and you can’t please people by living your life the way they want you to’,” she said.
On her once fledgling gospel career that even promised her a win in the Zimbabwe Music Awards in 2007, Excavator said she ditched it as the genre was not paying.
“I changed from gospel music because I needed some form of income and gospel music wasn’t paying that much. However, one day, when things are in place, I’ll go back to my first love which is gospel music,” she said.