By Novell Zwange – Do you still remember the Mahotella Queens, you thought they were gone? No they are still around.
Catch them together on Friday 12 November 2010, together with Bra Hugh Masekela, at the London Jazz Festival 2010, Hugh Masekela & the Mahotella Queens will be performing at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre London, UK.
The Mahotella Queens are a South African singing group formed in 1964 (and still together today) comprising Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola. The group is noted for their clear three-part harmonies, Mbaqanga township music and fast-paced mgqashiyo dancing.
The Queens were formed by the famed South African talent scout Rupert Bopape, at Gallo Record Company, in 1964, and would go on to have many hits at Gallo’s African music division, Mavuthela. Throughout the 1960s, the Queens’ line-up usually comprised Hilda Tloubatla, Juliet Mazamisa, Ethel Mngomezulu, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola. They were backed by the Mavuthela house band, the Makhona Tsohle Band (comprising several talented instrumentalists including Marks Mankwane on lead guitar and West Nkosi on saxophone), and fronted by the deep-voiced Simon “Mahlathini” Nkabinde. After 1971, growing competition from rival groups saw the Queens’ line-up fluctuate considerably, and after a string of mildly-successful late ’70s hits, the original five Mahotella Queens regrouped with Mahlathini and Makgona Tsohle in 1983. After one more hiatus, three of the Queens – Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola – regrouped permanently.
Although Mahlathini, Marks Mankwane and West Nkosi died between 1998 and 1999, the three Queens continue performing and recording – well into their 60s – to this day.
The Queens have appeared as part of Pee Wee Ellis’s show Still Black, Still Proud: An African Tribute to James Brown for the last two years. Their next performances will be in Europe throughout May and April 2010, as well as further performances in autumn and winter.