Trouble in paradise for gospel singers

2014-02-02 14:00

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Gospel family’s problem child, Lundi Tyamara, and his stablemates are embroiled in a legal battle with their former boss, Tshepo Nzimande, who has been dumped after a fight over money.

Tyamara and fellow gospel artists Fikile Mlomo and Kgosi Lebitsa turned their backs on Nzimande’s record label, Zuz’muz Music, last year.

Tyamara has already signed a contract with a rival record stable, MNE Media, and Mlomo and Lebitsa are still searching for a new stable.

A record company executive who did not want to be named said the trio told him they had made hundreds of thousands of rands for Nzimande, but are still considered to be tramps and “yellow pagers” (pedestrians) because they claim he’s short-changed them on their royalties.

Nzimande owns a fleet of cars and a house in Spruitview in Ekurhuleni.

Tyamara, who has sold millions of albums since venturing into the gospel industry more than two decades ago, has no car and is renting a tumbledown apartment in the seedy suburb of Turffontein.

Mlomo, who is a hugely popular performer, lives in a shack with her grandmother in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Kgosi has not done well, so we know why he is part of this madness,” said the executive.

He said the final straw between Nzimande and Tyamara came when the singer, who charges between R35?000 and R70?000 per show, was almost kicked out of his apartment for failing to pay his rent and electricity bill of R3?500.

“Lundi blamed this on Tshepo and said they have an agreement that [Nzimande] should give him an advance every month to pay rent,” said the executive.

The relationship between Nzimande and Mlomo broke down when the label boss tried to intervene after allegedly being told by the songbird’s grandmother that she was drinking too much.

“They wanted out, but Tshepo told them they still have running contracts with him. So they decided to go to the lawyers. Tshepo did not hear from them until he received a letter from their law firm,” said a second executive.

In the letters that City Press has seen from their law firm, Sikhitha Daniels & Associates, Tyamara and Mlomo state that they want to terminate their contracts and get their recording clearance.

They also demand that Nzimande hand over their master copies and royalties, along with other things belonging to them.

Nzimande said he had already spoken to his lawyers and would take the fight to court because the artists are still signed with him.

City Press has seen contracts that show the three artists are indeed still signed to Zuz’muz.

“They still have three albums each to release under our stable so if they want to leave they can leave, but their new boss must come and talk to me,” he said.

Nzimande also showed City Press invoices that he said proved he not only paid Tyamara’s rent but also settled the R150?000 debt he incurred at his old stable Bula Music, which he left for Zuz’muz in 2011.

He also showed us invoices that showed he gave Tyamara R500 every Monday.

“When his loan reached R200?000, we said no, he should find a way of managing his finances and that is when he sulked,” said Nzimande.

“My other artists Kholeka, Donny and Shwi own houses and cars because they knew what they wanted to do with their money.

“Sechaba also bought a house when I was working with him at Bula because he wanted it. I can’t dictate to those artists how they should spend their monies, I can only advise,” he said.

Nzimande also produced invoices that he said proved he’d paid Mlomo R190?000 from album sales and gigs in the two years she’s been with Zuz’muz.

“You know that Fikile is not a high seller, but look at the money we paid her,” he said, shrugging.

Mlomo declined to comment.

MNE Media director Steve Hlazo was adamant that Tyamara was no longer contracted to Zuz’muz.

“Lundi’s contract expired on November 29. We know that he [Nzimande] has been paying the loan that Lundi had with Bula, that’s why our lawyers asked him to give us a breakdown of what he paid and the balance, but he is not cooperating. He can go to court, but we will continue to do what we are doing.”

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