Johannesburg - Gospelheads will consider these household names, but for those unfamiliar with the genre, here’s a “Gospel 101” guide on SA’s greats.
She’s the undisputed African queen of gospel, having raked in innumerable awards and consistently going multiplatinum for most of the 35 albums she’s released to date. With her resonant voice and charisma on stage, Sis’ Rebs has managed to sell a whopping 10 million albums to date in the 30-year span of her career. With her signature “German” haircut and regal style, Malope is also a TV host, having headed It’s Gospel Time since 2004.
The king of gospel, Reverend Benjamin Dube is a multiple award-winning artist who’s first record deal was signed in the US. His 2000 debut album, I Feel Like Going On, reached platinum status in South Africa, and he’s released several high-selling albums since. Dube owns his own record label, Dube Connection, and received a Life Achievement Award at the 2009 Crown Gospel Music Awards for his massive contribution to the genre.
SIPHO ‘THE BIG FISH’ MAKHABANE
Known affectionately as The Big Fish, Sipho Makhabane has a career spanning over a decade and has released a whopping 27 albums. He’s won a multitude of awards, and is known for his soulful voice and the way he sings lyrics from the heart. Makhabane survived a near-fatal car accident in 2015, much to the relief of his many fans.
The late Sfiso Ncwane is fondly remembered as one of South Africa’s all-time gospel greats. He released several multiple platinum-selling albums in his career, and eventually started his own label, Sfiso Ncwane Productions. Ncwane raked in many awards for his work, including a SA Music Award for Record of the Year in 2013 and an Agma (London-based Gospel Award) in the same year. Ncwane died in 2016 at the age of 37 from kidney failure. There is now a documentary being made about his life.
Described as a “giant of the South African traditional gospel genre”, the late Oleseng Shuping released a massive 27 albums during his career – including solo works and releases as part of male choir The Attridgeville Happy Boys. He was beloved for his passionate trademark style of singing and often improvised lyrics on the spot. Shuping passed away in 2010.