Guest Column

Your turn will come, Babes

2017-06-11 06:10
Babes Wodumo. Picture: Jabulani Langa

Babes Wodumo. Picture: Jabulani Langa

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Ntombizodwa Makhoba

Two expressions resonate well with the rise of one Bongekile Simelane – “being in the right place at the right time” and “be nice to people on your way up, you might meet them on your way down”.

Up until April last year, Simelane was an unknown video vixen known only in Durban circles. But the release of the song Wololo – which came about after she went to the studio by chance – put Babes Wodumo, as Simelane is known in the showbiz industry, on a level she and her team could not have imagined.

Her arrival on the music scene happened when the industry was hungry for a fresh sound, and Babes became the first young woman to introduce qgom music – a catchy dance subgenre popular in Durban.

With her gyrating moves on the dance floor, Wololo became a hit, dominating the airwaves throughout the country. It was on the top 10 on all charts and remained there for long.

Her moves also earned her loads of lusty male fans, who declared that she was a “national key point” – a reference that she couldn’t belong to anyone except her male followers.

Her popularity went viral, with children of all races falling in love with her raunchy dance moves. Her moves reignited the euphoria last seen in the early 1990s during the times of Boom Shaka – the pioneers of kwaito music.

So popular was Babes that, in October last year – six months after the release of her song – she took to social media to announce that she wasn’t taking any more bookings until 2017. The reason? She was already up to her neck with shows and gigs and simply couldn’t do any more. That’s how in demand she was. And the money was rolling in.

Babes’ popularity should be credited to Mampintsha of the popular Durban kwaito group Big Nuzz, who discovered her during a talent show five years ago. She would become Mampintsa’s first signing to his record label, West Ink.

“I noticed that, whenever she spoke, there would be a punchline. That is how I identified her singing talent,” he said of his star.

In all of this, Babes knew she was not ready for fame and fortune. “I knew where I was going, but never imagined that my music and dancing would be appreciated this much. I still get shocked by how starstruck people are when they see me; it can be overwhelming at times,” she once admitted.

Be nice to people on your way up

Babes has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It started late last year when she pulled “no show” stunts more than once at big venues. She was also caught in a feud with the Buyel’Ekhaya Pan African Music Festival organisers, where she charged R100 000 for a performance that fans were not impressed with.

This marked the beginning of her being unpopular with a legion of fans who were disappointed with her behaviour.

In the entertainment industry, one’s success is owed to one’s fans. Fans are the ones who buy your music, buy tickets to watch your performances and who vote for you to win awards. You’re nothing without fans. If you want to be successful and nurture your longevity in the showbiz industry, don’t undermine or disrespect your fans. But Babes did the opposite and they lost hope and faith in her – quickly.

This was evident when she walked away with nothing at the Metro FM Music Awards and the SA Music Awards (Samas) recently.

Even ahead of the Samas – where she had received four nominations – she made it “loud and clear” that if she didn’t win, she wouldn’t submit her songs to any awards panel again.

Surprisingly, according to a radio monitor chart dated March 1 last year to February 28 this year, her song Wololo was at number four with 5 414 spins, but still received dololo in awards.

After the Samas, Babes and Mampintsa took to social media expressing their anger and frustration, claiming that some record labels “bought” the awards and that they were jealous of Babes’ success. Really, guys?

While their frustrations are understandable, the social media rant was unnecessary and unprofessional. It was bad for her reputation.

Although they’ve since apologised, the perception of sour grapes will always be stuck with the fans – who created the hashtag #BabesWodumoChallenge, which trended as people poured scorn on her wounded ego.

Some unsolicited advice for you, Babes: You don’t need to win awards to be a great or a successful artist. Ask the queen of kwaito, Mshoza. She had a hit, Kortes, but she has never won an award.

Musician Mgarimbe once had a hit, Sister Bethina, but he has never won an award. Have you seen them make a big deal out of this?

Look at the talented singer Vusi Nova. He only got his first award after 10 years in the music business. Kwesta bagged six awards after he produced hit after hit. Hope you’re taking notes.

Focus on producing good music and your time will come.

Don’t compare yourself to others, because you’re a unique and talented soul in your own right. At least you know that if music doesn’t work for you, you can still go back to what you do best – being a vixen girl.

All the best on your BET nomination.

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