Emerging local acts get platform through Up & Coming monthly showcase

Cape Town - Joburg’s number one live music showcase Up & Coming presents an exciting set of emerging talent that will be performing at Winnies Soul and Jazz Restaurant in Woodmead, Johannesburg, on Wednesday 29 July.  

Up & Coming is designed to give talented musicians a well-deserved performance platform. Now in its fifth year and supported by the Departments of Arts and Culture, it provides a monthly showcase of musical performers, primarily within the African, soul, latin, RnB, jazz and folk genres.

Wednesday’s showcase will feature vocalist-guitarist, Xoli MJ, Afro-soul singer Vuyokazi, and funk rock guitarist, Urban.

XoliMj has a bag full of dreams, passion and soulful lyrics. She is a singer, songwriter and a music lover.  

Xoliswa Mjekula, the mother of one, hails from the Eastern Cape and currently resides in Lombardy East, Johannesburg.


"My genre is folk music, but I call it DopeFolk. I have been working with Pilani Bubu, another folk artist that I met through Mandisa Bardill. I write music with a message based on life experiences and situations I've seen and some that I lived through," said Xoliswa.  

Like most up and coming artists who are pushing the hustle on the side, she has a Monday to Friday, eight to five job. She added: "I studied business admin and management. I am now working as a pastel assistant in accounts for a small firm in Bedfordview, Joburg."

Xoliswa said that she fell in love with music from the tender age of 13 but didn't have the confidence and means to pursue it. But thanks to Idols SA season seven, that passion for music was stirred and she gained all the confidence and reassurance she needed to follow her heart. She took part in the competition in 2011. She made it to the top 60 – group stages.

She added: "The experience was good and bad but mostly an eye opener, which drove me to actually pursue music seriously. When I left Idols, I doubted myself and wondered if I’m actually meant for this. I was broken and wondered if this really was my path. I didn't sing or wanna be seen on stage anywhere, until one day a friend, Cynthia Ayeza, told me to shake it off and be who I was destined to be. I got up and haven't stopped pushing since."

After Idols SA she joined the worship team at her church and started pursuing her music career. "Then one day Mandisa Bardill spotted me at Nikkis when I was performing with some friends."

Just the beginning

Mandisa Bardill is founder and managing director of Bardill Entertainment, which provides event services and also serves as an artist booking agency. She is the brain behind the Up & Coming initiative.  She said: "I started it in March 2011. It was born out of what I saw was a real need for our local emerging artists to have a platform to showcase their talents.

"I had the opportunity to meet many talented artists during the opening and closing ceremonies of both the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 Fifa World Cup in my role as segment producer. Their stories and frustrations inspired me to start the Up & Coming platform. We also invite members of the music and entertainment industries to the shows every last Wednesday of the month, in the hope of creating further opportunities for the featured artists. To date, we have showcased about 140 local music artists at Up & Coming, the brand that has become known as Jozi's number one live music showcase."

And of course, XoliMJ is excited to be on the line-up. But this is just the beginning.  

She said in the next five years she wants to be "that artist who has been able to spread her music to any ear or heart that needs comfort encouragement and love. I want to take my music to the hearts of men and women. My music talent will go where God leads it."

She added: "The hustle is hard, most times I ask myself if I’ll ever make it in this business, but the burning desire and being assured by a power beyond me that I’ll succeed drives me."

What does the future hold for determined Xoliswa?

"I am not signed by any label. I was never really after any label from the start. I'm finalising my single now. The album will be determined by how the single does. I won't jump into an album now. I’ll probably follow on with an EP, something in extension to the single. I take things one day at a time and if it gets harder, I take it one minute at a time," she concluded.

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