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Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse on turning 70: 'I don’t feel like I'm 70, I'm just aware now'

03 November 2021 - 13:00 By Constance Gaanakgomo
SA music icon Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi in Soweto. Close family and friends were in attendance.
SA music icon Sipho 'Hotstix' Mabuse celebrated his 70th birthday at 1947 On Vilakazi in Soweto. Close family and friends were in attendance.
Image: Alon Skuy

Legendary jazz and pop musician Sipho Hotstix Mabuse is not scared of ageing, nor is he any less aware that he feels and looks younger than he should. 

Dressed in a suave classic blue suit at his intimate party at Soweto on Tuesday, Hotstix exuded a kind of energy that was calm and poised as he warmly greeted and mingled with his guests.

Surrounded by friends and family, he was elated at the milestone, considering that on his father's side of the family they have barely reached that age before they passed.  

He had a sit-down with TshisaLIVE to count his blessings, as he has been “walking in the footsteps of giants”. Ageing comes with a sense of awareness, something the musician is conscious of.  

“I don’t feel like I'm 70, I think it's just perhaps I'm aware now, but I don’t actually feel it. I think the kind of lifestyle I’ve led has made me feel more comfortable with my progressing years so, I've never really felt older than what I should be.”

With a career spanning more than 50 years, he refuses to believe that he has reached his pinnacle and also refuses to don the hat of musical genius.

“I wish I was,  I think there are people who are more talented and with more genius that one could always refer to. I thought Ray Phiri was a genius; when I listened to some of the music that man created, I thought you can only be the best if you can be like that man.”

At the beginning of the intimate do, a list of musicians was read out, and a deafening silence filled the room, as the names of great musicians who have now passed was listed. Hotstix was paying homage to extraordinary colleagues who had served as inspiration for his music. 

He credits his staying power to his inventiveness. 

“I've been a privileged musician ... when one is able to interact with all different kinds of people, especially in the music industry, they have different types of music - it can only be part of my inventiveness, they helped me along the way. You know there is a saying that you walk in the steps of the giants.

“I've always found myself walking in the footsteps of these giants that SA has produced and in a way that has kept me going for some time. I also believe that because I am a focused person, if I made a choice to become a musician, I can only be a product of what my vocation is, unless of course I found myself wanting.”

Hotstix took a trip down memory lane to his impressionable years when he created Thaba Bosiu, a song he said was a fan favourite

“I was motivated, perhaps inspired, by this traditional music of the healers as a drummer. I was a youngster, I think that era was my impressionable age where this traditional music of healers inspired me to become what I am.”

 “Now the music  industry is changing and will always present new ideas and thoughts. I'm not adverse to new ideas or to working with people who have new ideas and thoughts in the music industry, and I think through that, I've always learned that I can also reinvent myself throughout. I've never allowed dictates of the industry to determine how I create my music - the music should speak for itself.”


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