He knows everything about hustling to make ends meet. While he’s always wanted to be a singing sensation, he had to find other means of making money before his dreams came true.
So Mali Soul, real name Malizole Fololo, got a job in a mortuary.
His track Akasekho chronicles his life story. Having lost his father at 15 years old, life became hard for him and his family. He found himself working in a mortuary cleaning dead bodies to feed his family. All the while still going to school.
“Washing people who have died is as scary as one can imagine. Some people died painfully; others are barely recognisable. For the first few months I barely slept,” he says.
“Music was the only thing that kept me going in my line of work. Praise songs were my escape.”
He didn’t stop pursuing his dream of being a famous musician and has now released his album, Amakhaya.
It took 13 years for him to deliver the much-anticipated album.
In that time he’s written and recorded with the likes of Theo Kgosinkwe of Mafikizola, gospel great Dr Rebecca Malope, the late Robbie Malinga and Siphokazi Mohapi.
He was waiting for the right time to share his story.
His song Amakhaya speaks of the everyday problems people go through. He sings of losing loved ones, love and heartbreak.
Mali Soul is a simple, humble young man who honours his elders and loves his maker as much as he does creating music.
We meet the crooner at the studio where he recorded his album. When he arrives, he greets with an elbow bump.
“This is the new way of doing things,” he says.
Mali Soul was born and raised in Ikwezi township in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
He says he has been “hustling” using his musical talents since the age of nine.
“I started writing songs because I wanted to create something original and entirely my own. When I was around seven years old, I joined our local African Gospel Church choir and soon after I was asked to join the highly respected group Jesus Kids,” he says.
It was then that he knew he wanted to be a hitmaker.
“I knew I wanted to perform traditional music in my home language,” he proclaims.
“My culture is important to me, and if there was a way I could keep my roots in the Eastern Cape, all the better.”
Coincidentally Mali Soul attended the same school as Afro-soul singer Nathi Mankayi.
“We both went to Zimele Junior School. Maybe there was something in the water because our school has produced great talent,” he says.
This gave him a chance to mingle with like-minded musicians.
“In my spare time I performed at gigs and found other ways of making an income.”
Since then, Mali has been on many stages and has found the sound that best tells his story.“I know what I want to say in the music. My songs are about healing and helping people to escape bad situations. I was born to heal.”