Maskandi musician Shaluza Max’s death greeted with shock

2014-01-04 10:42

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In a blow to the music world, influential maskandi singer-songwriter Shaluza Max Mntambo died of kidney failure after collapsing at home on Thursday night.

The musician, popularly known as Shaluza Max, died in the early hours of yesterday morning, causing an outpouring of reflection from his fans and the many musicians he touched through his collaborations with them.

City Press has learnt that Max’s legacy will also live on in a major new maskandi album – described by fellow musicians as his “magnum opus” – which is being final-mixed and will be released in March.

This was confirmed by the album’s producer and Max’s close friend Vuyo Manyike. A sad Manyike, who worked with Max for over a decade, said: “We are all grieving the loss ... it is a sad day for me and the team as we were working on the project. We will continue to mourn him and celebrate him the only way we know how – through music.”

He says the still-untitled album is “a vintage maskandi and world sound” that Max was famous for and that it contains “lots of ballads” written by him.

The album has been in production for more than two years and executive producer and business associate Zam Nkosi said although Max had been battling with kidney disease, he had remained “upbeat and full of life and had not allowed his condition to take that away from him”.

Nkosi told City Press he had known Max for more than 20 years.

“The recording was completed just before Christmas ... and we kept in contact over the festive season until I learnt of his passing in the early hours of Friday.

“The album far surpasses anything Max had ever done because he retained creative control throughout the recording without the pressure of record executives.”

Max will be remembered for his brand of maskandi music which carried tribal traditions with healing and spiritual undercurrents into present-day sounds.

He was lauded overseas more than at home, especially in western Europe where he toured and lived for several years.

Over the years, Max collaborated with legends including Busi Mhlongo, Moses Molelekwa, Sipho Gumede, Zim Ngqawana and Wendy Mseleku who all passed on before him.

Max is credited with having launched Mseleku’s singing career after working with her on Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina.

He was a member of the collective Barungwa – The Messengers, with subsequent projects released under the Melt2000 label.

In 2000, Max released his debut solo album, Kusile. It was followed by Impilo in 2003 which was nominated for a South African Music Award.

He released the Best of Shaluza Max album in 2005 which featured 16 of his greatest songs. He is best known for the songs Mangase, Amaginsa and Isigwadi.

Lungelo Mntambo, the nephew of Shaluza Max Mntambo, said the family had not met to discuss the funeral arrangement.

Friends and fans took to social media, particularly Twitter, to mourn the passing of the talented musician.

Power FM DJ Paul Mnisi tweeted: “Am left wondering by the news of Max Mntambo’s (Shaluza Max) passing. My thoughts are with his family. Lala kahle Shaluza. Impilo.”

Anele Mkabayi Mda tweeted: “Awuuuu madoda Shaluza Max is no more ... mbhaqanga music mourns one of great musicians”.

Max is survived by his wife, Nomsa, and extended family.

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