Roho is shaking it up with a performance circuit to die for

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Artist Roho guides us through a new kind of meditation through his music. Photo: Supplied
Artist Roho guides us through a new kind of meditation through his music. Photo: Supplied


Living one’s purpose authentically is not a privilege many of us can often enjoy. When we see an artist living their most authentic life, we appreciate them that much more. One such artist is a 22-year old musical genius taking the South African performance circuit by storm.

Gomotsegang Maponyane, better known as Roho, has been making notable moves in the industry for almost two years. He was born and raised in a small, remote area in Mokopane, near Polokwane, before his parents moved to Tshwane.

Roho said:

Where I grew up it was calm. There’s something about growing up isolated from the city that forces you to exercise your senses more.
"Without much to do, he was given the space to hone his talents, which encouraged him to use his imagination, “I get nostalgic thinking about it all, my childhood was such a beautiful time,” he said.

With his parents’ music collections made up of vinyls from artists such as Anita Baker and Ella Fitzgerald, it’s no wonder Roho’s sound is a new-age kind of soulful. His taste for neo-soul grew when he discovered neo-soul royalty, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. 

I only decided to sing after I watched The Bodyguard. There was something about that movie, and about hearing Whitney Houston’s rendition of I Will Always Love You. Her character was so alluring to me.

READThe Bodyguard movie gets a Hollywood remake

Bringing it closer to home though, the lady that took care of me as a kid was a big inspiration. I watched her sing at church and I think that was it. I haven’t stopped singing since.”

Roho’s growth and recent performance circuit seem symbolic of a new chapter in the artist’s life. With the release of his full-length project, Ephemeral, last year, he quickly found himself being the hot topic on everyone’s lips. With the opener of his project aptly titled Lose Yourself, Roho sets the stage for a new kind of ritual – one where listeners fall deeply into the layered sounds he creates in song.

As the project continues, we get a deeper sense of Roho, and get the chance to understand the artist in a very personal way. Describing the project as a testament to his youth and an epic discovery of self, he somehow always manages to take us on a spiritual journey.

This project was like a perfect summer. I can’t have certain memories back again, so I had to find a way to lock them in a brief moment. I needed to re-live those experiences, so Ephemeral is a biographical archive.

“The next project is an evolution from that. I’m not as young as I was and I’m tapping into a new form. It almost feels like I’m dreaming in colour. I’m still recording it and working on it.”

With co-signs from industry heavyweights such as producer extraordinaire DoouShii and Eote’s Love Back remixer Yolophonik, Roho’s sound is elevated not only in lyrical content, but also in sound and overall vibe.

The Covid-19 pandemic came at the worst time for Roho, but he took it as an opportunity to grow, and give us perhaps one of the best independent artist performance circuits I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. Roho says the inspiration for this performance circuit came through the ending of a chapter.

“I don’t identify with the songs in Ephemeral anymore. I’ve changed and I’ve grown. I wanted to bid farewell to the project in the purest way. It’s also hard travelling with music independently, so I had to find an alternative for my own summer tour, which I’ve been doing through October. I’ve had the opportunity to perform at Treetops, Salem Sundays, which I did with Mars Baby, and at NarowBi. I was letting go of that phase with everyone and we celebrated how, after a year of just being apart and isolated, we could finally be in these spaces together and sing together.”

Roho opens up about what makes a performance as he says goodbye to Ephemeral. Photo: Supplied

Watching independent artists perform is always a joy. This is largely due to the fact that they are not tied to the same boundaries as signed and mainstream artists, so their music and shows tend to be authentic in ways that are almost indescribable.

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“It’s always like a ritual,” the artist said. 

It’s all about energy and intention. My creative process feels like light work and shadow work. I’m using my body as a vessel for the purest energy to flow through me on stage and pass it on to whoever’s in the crowd with me.

While the recorded material is a more fixed and tangible experience, Roho’s light shines through. With a voice that seems to envelop you, his sound can be best described as a big hug – and it’s time the world knows it too.  


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