Blind musos hit the right notes

2015-06-11 06:00

Michael Stokwe, Vukile Bomela and Evelyn Siwa are happy for their album which is due to be released soon.
Mbongiseni Maseko

Michael Stokwe, Vukile Bomela and Evelyn Siwa are happy for their album which is due to be released soon. PHOTO: Mbongiseni Maseko

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Blindness may be a handicap, but does not always define the fate of those afflicted with the condition among us.

Three blind but aspiring musicians have proved this assertion correct by looking forward to their first recording deal.

And if they succeed, they could be following in the footsteps of other blind but great musicians, like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and homegrown talented musicians the likes of Babsy Mlangeni and Steve Kekana.

Vukile Patrick Bomela,53, Evelyn Siwa, 52, and Michael Thulani Stokwe,57, are the threesome that make up Treasured Voices, which, is due to release its second album which they said will cause a storm in the music industry.

Bomela and Siwa stay in Mfuleni and Stokwe stays in Gugulethu.

Titled Idwala Lamadwala, and nicknamed by the artists as “The kitchen stew” due to its mixture of genres such as mbaqanga, jazz, gospel, mqashiyo and reggae in one album.

The larger-than-life Nkomfa Mkhabile is featured in two songs in the album.

The trio come a long way back; they first set ‘eyes’ on each at Efata School for the Blind and Deaf, in Mthatha, more than three decades ago, in 1978.

After school they went their separate ways, and there was a long hiatus, until they bumped into each other again in 1989, and decided to form Treasured Voices.

Siwa said their debut album was of such bad sound quality that they were embarassed to release it to the public.

“We bcould not release it, so it never reached the ears of our fans.”

The album, recorded in 2001, never saw the light of day, he emphasised.

“I am sure our fans will buy the album. We prayed for it. The album is not boring. Eight out of the 12 songs in the album are hits. We wrote most of them songs.”

Idwala will be dedicated as a birthday present to Eunice ‘Mhonko’ Godze, the group’s manager and a sister of Vukile Bomela, who celebrated the milestone on 08 April.

“We know that we are blind, but we do not want anyone to tell us we can’t do anything on our own.”

Siwa is a mother of thee, one of whom demised in 1998. She said she has been blind since the age of Seven.

Bomela, the group’s keyboard player, said using his father’s keyboard without permission and borrowing his friend’s keyboards helped him learn the skill of playing the instrument.

“I taught myself to play the keyboard. I could play it before I went to Efata. I can play it better than most of people who can see. I am a very curious person, and that is why I became a good keyboard player.”

He lost sight at the very young age, but he is not so sure what really caused it.

Stokwe, a father of four, said the album is a dream come true for the group.

“I am very happy that we have managed to record the album after so many years of trying. We had ups and downs and today we want to thank Mhonko, who came to our rescue,” Stokwe said.

Stokwe, who sings baritone, was born blind and he is coming from a family with a history of blindness.

His mother and aunt are blind and so is his second child. The album is expected to be available in music stores around the country


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