By Ntsako Shivambu


Princess of Africa, Yvonne Chaka Chaka arriving at the awards ceremony

It was a biggest night for the backing vocalist and session musicians, it was the inaugural Backing Vocalist and Session musician’s awards organised by Yvonne Chaka Chaka Promotions and Princess of Africa foundations. It has never been done anywhere else in the world; it’s a model that brought tears of joy and emotions to the awardee. Indeed the recipients have never in their lives in Music received any recognition but have played major musical role for award winning musicians.

The backing vocalist and session musicians were brought in in style with luxury sedans dropping them off the red carpet and warmly received by throngs of admirers. It was the greatest Percussionist Mabe Thobentjana who could not hold his tears of joy and shouted to the top of his voice when entering the venue. Mabe has contributed immensely to the music of great musicians such as Malombo and Sello Galane to mention but a few, he’s no ordinary player but through his career in music he has never been formally recognized for his contributions and many musicians whom he contributed in his music have failed to give credit for his work.

The event was graced by the deputy minister of arts and culture, Rejoice Mabudafhasi who undertook that department of arts and culture will certainly contribute in the next instalment of the awards. She raised concerns about the state of arts in the country and a need for recognizing people who are not in the front row but have contributed in our arts and culture.

 Indeed everyone is concerned about the poor role that the government is playing in helping our artists. A more proactive role by the government is needed to deal with issues that have dire financial impact and killing our arts.  

Picking up the award for best bass guitarist Fana Zulu had this to say. “I’m very thankful to Yvonne for finally recognizing our efforts and hard work, many people don’t know us but they dance to the music that we play as we contribute a lot to the success of the musicians. People you must check the album sleeve”, he said.

Elated Mandisa Dlanga received the lifetime recognition for backing vocals and she could not hold her tears as she accepted the award. Mandisa’s versatile voice can be heard in the music of Jennifer Rush, Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwagwa and many world acclaimed musicians.

Vusi Khumalo magical hand in hitting the drum with the sticks can be witnessed by listening to the music of legends like Harry Belafonte, Youssour  N’dour, Lucky Dube, Hugh Masekela , Marriam Makeba , the powerful Soweto String Quartet and Merion Meadows. Vusi was awarded lifetime recognition in drums live. On his acceptance speech Vusi thanked Yvonne for recognizing the work of unsung heroes in the music industry who are behind the scenes and mostly not even mentioned by the people in the forefront.


Rest assured that this event will become part of the most sought after events in the future just like the South African music awards. Yvonne has given birth to a jam that will forever be accepted by those who have been shunned for a long time.  It indeed felt like the release of Nelson Mandela for many, it was a new dawn in the music fraternity, history in the making. 

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