Thu Dec 08 16:22:53 SAST 2016

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Sephuma is all woman

Jackie May | 2012-08-03 00:16:18.0
Jazz and Afro-pop singer Judith Sephuma will perform at the new Soweto Theatre next weekend. File photo
Image by: LALOMBA MUSIC

Judith Sephuma meets me at the new Soweto Theatre. I arrive with a photographer. She arrives without make-up, her hair in the cutest of dreads, but clearly not photograph-ready.

Never mind the miscommunication, the South African jazz and Afro-pop queen is relaxed and ready to chat.

Next Friday and Saturday, to coincide with the Women's Day weekend, Sephuma will perform in Soweto. It's a celebration of her 10 years in the industry, of women and of the new theatre, which she says is devoted not to tourists but to the people of Johannesburg.

"I want to be part of this place," she says.

Sephuma will be the first woman, she says, to perform in the red, blue and yellow Soweto Theatre, near Jabulani stadium. It is at this stadium that, in 1985, Zindzi Mandela read out the letter from her jailed father rejecting an offer of freedom in return for renouncing the armed struggle.

Sephuma says she is driven by a desire to serve people through her music. She has stuck to her chosen career through thick and thin.

"I tried not to let challenges get in my way. My focus has been my career," she says.

"There are many people who thought I had issues, which could have given me reason to not go on. But I chose to go on and my decision made me better at what I do."

Fittingly, the name of her latest, and fourth, album is I Am a Living Testimony.

To ensure that her business grows she doesn't leave much to fate, or to others. She has her own studio in which to record her music, her brother Thabo takes care of her media engagements, and the concert in Soweto is under her control.

The fliers, the posters and the booking of the venue have been managed by her office at home.

It's her home, that grounds her.

"Because of the stability, having a grounded life, I don't care what happens out there. People can say what they want but at home there is that love and laughter, and [that] keeps me happy.

"Without my family I think I would be miserable and I would focus too much on what others thought of me."

Home life is busy. Despite rumours earlier this year of infidelity, she is a happily married mother of five children.

"We love kids," she says of herself and her husband, the photographer Siphiwe Mhlambi.

"And I love baking. I bake every second or third day. It's fun. I like to cook early in the morning."

With five children to take care of, it's hard to imagine how Sephuma can still work as a star singer.

But, to strike a balance, she says: "I don't separate my roles. I work because of my children and I work because of my passion for music. My music and my children are both part of my life.

"I would never quit. I love being on stage. I love doing what I do, and doing it passionately. Even for just one ticket buyer. I can't explain it."

But it's her mother she wants to be when she's grown up. From her she learned the reward of hard work and self-discipline.

"She is amazing. She does so much for me with so much love. On a recent visit she cleaned, cooked, tidied and took care of my sick children. This is what matters. This is what is good. This is supposed to be what happens."

  • Sephuma will perform at the Soweto Theatre at 8pm on August 10 and 11. Tickets are available from Computicket at R150 each

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