Hardly a month since the release of his gospel single, Pfuxelela, Rhodes University student Praise Ntsako Mathebula saw his song reach number one spot on the Google Play Gospel charts.
The gospel artist and final-year Bachelor of Arts student, whose stage name is Praise Smo, recorded his debut album on 31 August last year. It was done at the Rhodes University Box Theatre with production company The Prophet and The Carpenter, founded by Elijah Madiba and Sebastian Jamieson. The 15-track album includes his hot single, Pfuxelela (‘Revive’) which his fans have dubbed ‘The Revival Prayer’.
His single was released on 14 August 2020 and it has been very well received by his fans and the general public. It has been in the top 10 of the Google Play Gospel charts since its release, rose to number 9 on the overall Google Play chart on 17 August, and made its way to the number one spot on 22 August.
“I wrote this song as a prayer to God for revival, not just for me but for the world at large. It has been received well by the public – even those who do not speak Xitsonga – because it is very relevant for the times that we are currently living in. The pandemic has hurt every one of us in different ways. I firmly believe that we are all in need of a revival,” explained Praise.
The 24-year-old student hails from Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, and grew up in a music-loving staunch Christian family. But it was only when he left home for university that his music career gained traction.
“Prior to that, music was just a hobby even though I was under the vigorous music tutelage of my uncle Daniel Mdhluli (instrument playing) and my aunt Tiyiselani Ndhlovu (voice). It is only until I left for university that I began having a serious urge to forge out a music career. I used every opportunity to be involved in musical activities in and around Rhodes University,” he said.
Things started getting serious when in his first year he met his current producer, manager and mentor Madiba, who is the manager of the International Library of African Music (ILAM). He said Madiba took his uncle and aunt’s teachings further, by fine-tuning his musical abilities and providing him with the platforms and resources to realise his dream of being a musician.
His lecturer in music, culture, history and instrumental music studies, Ms Boudina McConnachie, said she had watched Praise’s growth from first year. “He has moved from another degree to specialise in music (our new African Musical Arts course). I have known from the get-go that he was motivated and passionate enough to go far. The whole ILAM team is doing an amazing job of nurturing young talent through the teaching of African music. I really believe that this is just the beginning of his journey,” she said.