Everyone knows her name. She is a living legend after all with more than three decades of work under her belt.
So when her name is added to a list of performers for a show, the audience knows they are in for a good time.
Veteran singer Rebecca Malope isn't known for being a diva or complaining, so when she said she had been disrespected and disappointed when performing at a show, everyone sat up and waited for more details.
On 30 April, gospel singer Bucy Radebe hosted a live concert and recording and album recording at the Sun City Superbowl in the North West.
She invited guests Vusi Nova, Jabu Hlongwane, and veteran singer Rebecca Malope. What was meant to be a day of worship and praise ended up being a day filled with tears for gospel veteran Rebecca.
In a post on social media, Bucy thanked guests for supporting her at the concert. “We had a wonderful five hours. I enjoyed every moment with you.”
Rebecca responded saying, “I wish I had the same experience as you. In 34 years of my career, I’ve never been so disappointed and disrespected. I hope it never happens again.”
Social media fans of the two have been speculating since then.
Speaking to Drum and detailing the events leading up to the disagreement in Sun City, Rebecca says the experience brought back memories of her father being abusive towards her mother.
“When you get an invitation, you honour it. First, they asked me for a meeting, and came over to discuss my involvement in the concert,” she says.
“Bucy expressed the way she loved my song Nkarabe because it told her story. Her eyes were red, I could tell she had been crying. They asked that we do a collaboration on the song for the concert, and I agreed,” she says.
“Everything was fine, I comforted her, like an elder and a mother. I reassured her that God sometimes does not give us everything we want.”
Rebecca says he understood Bucy’s struggle through her own.
“The song was my own prayer when I couldn’t have children. It was a prayer that helped a lot of women who could not have children and some of their wishes came true.”
Before the day of the concert, Rebecca attended rehearsals with Bucy’s band and choir.
“I was not too happy with the outcome, so I asked for another rehearsal. There were certain things I wanted to put in the song. I needed more, [I wanted to] add harmonies and tell the choir to do this and that. The collaboration was not exactly as I was hoping but I was okay with it because sometimes when you don’t know someone well, the chemistry takes time.”
On the day of the concert, Rebecca drove with her manager and daughter Noluthando Malope to Sun City.
“I went to Sun City on that day at around 12:30 and did the soundcheck with the band. No one came to me to inform me about the running order of the day. I was left in the dark about small things like how I enter the stage, when I will be performing and what will be required of me,” she says.
“But I gave them the benefit of the doubt and decided to play my part when asked to go on stage. After soundcheck, I went back to the hotel room they had booked and started getting concerned when I did not have a makeup artist. So, I phoned Melford, my makeup artist to drive from Johannesburg to Sun City and gladly paid him to come. I didn’t mind it, and I didn’t complain. As an artist I know I cannot enter the stage without makeup and just Vaseline on my face.”
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Hours before the show, Rebecca went to the venue at 7pm.
“I was in the venue change rooms from 7pm. I stayed there until the interval happened around 10pm. No one came to me to communicate the running order for the day or came to check up on me. Again, I stayed patient. I overlooked everything. I thought these were minor things. I wanted to go there and give my best performance because people love this song,” she adds.
“A few minutes before the song starts the guy (Bucy’s manager and husband) asked me to come out and go to the audience. To start the song in the audience, which is something I was never briefed about prior. The people were already seated in the audience, and I felt it would cause chaos to have people scream and pull at me during the concert. I was also there at the soundcheck and was never informed about their plans. When I objected, he lost it,” she says.
“Maybe he wanted me to feel he was the boss, but he started swearing and saying all sorts of things that I do not wish to repeat. He was fighting. He said in his words, ‘If you don’t want me to do what I say you, can leave it,’ He then said, ‘If you don’t want to you can f**k off,” she adds.
“He told me that the song is not adding any value to the concert anyway, who do I think I am? Yena he wasted money in putting this whole thing together. I can just ‘f**k off.’ He was using swear words like a bully. He didn’t even pretend to be humble. It’s like he was doing me a favour.”
Rebecca says she was not paid for the performance and did not need payment.
“I was not paid; I didn’t charge them for anything. I was there out of love for God and upcoming talent like I do with everyone. I am at home, retired, enjoying my life, my grandchildren and I left my home to honour the invitation and because Bucy explained what the song meant to her. Then he insulted me. I felt abused. It took me back to when my father was so abusive towards my mother,” she says.
After the heated incident, Rebecca gathered the courage and got on stage.
“I had to go on the stage with a very heavy heart to honour the audience. I sang in tears. I went off stage and the audience called for more and I went back on the stage.”
After the concert, Rebecca says she struggled to get a wink of sleep.
“I couldn’t sleep. I thought in the morning I would be fine but I wasn’t. I expected a phone call or a sorry but till this day no one has phoned me directly to apologise or explain what was happening on that day," she says.
“I was not okay, I had not been that upset in my life for a very long time. When I saw Bucy’s post, I had to reply. I was very hurt. I asked people to pray for me to be okay. He then sent my manager who is also my daughter a message saying, ‘Is this the game you want to play now.’ Imagine that? You don’t threaten me and my family,” she says.
“They have not apologized face to face. Instead of them responding personally, they kept quiet and they released a statement which I felt was not genuine because they could have spoken to me the same way they were able to speak to me and ask me to perform.”
Bucy Radebe’s husband and manager Thapelo Thoboke has since issued an apology to Rebecca “for any hurt that the altercation may have caused”.
“I would like to convey my sincere and unconditional apology to yourself over issues that were not even meant for your ears, of which an altercation between myself and your manager offended you somehow. Yes, emotions were high but in my sane and sober state, I’m fully aware that at no stage did I insult anybody, what I uttered was that if the song is not done the way we planned it on our recording, it will lose the whole idea of honouring you,” the statement reads.
Rebecca says her music is all about promoting love and she is seen as a mother to many young gospel stars and she is always willing to help people where she can.
“We promote love in our gospel industry. It’s about caring, and uplifting one another, that’s the God we serve. I communicate with almost all the young artists and help where I can. I have never been treated like this before. He saw maybe we were women, and my daughter is still young and made us his doormats and I am speaking out because this kind of behaviour needs to stop,” she says.
“I am a grandmother, a mother to a nation that respects me. I refuse to be treated that way. Not even young upcoming artists deserve to be treated in that manner. It must stop now. I will never allow that. Maybe he has done that to other artists and they were scared to speak up but it shouldn’t happen again. I prayed about it; I am good now and I thank everyone for their support and prayers.”