I always say that gospel is the most advanced genre in the South African music industry. Sales rise and fall in the other genres but they remain more or less constant for the gospel genre. This is no surprise as the majority of South Africans are Christians.
Gospel music is also the only music genre to enjoy its own channel. Yes! An entire television channel dedicated to showcasing gospel music. As well as an Awards Ceremony dedicated only to it. I digress…
One of South Africa’s gems in terms of gospel, is Ntokozo Mbambo. Her career started when she joined Joyous Celebration at the age of 15. She was still in high school at the time. From a young age, Ntokozo has learnt to work hard. She would work hard at school and would have to learn songs during her holidays (other members had been rehearsing for 3 months.). Her dedication lead to her rise to being one of the leading vocalists of Joyous Celebration.
Last year, Ntokozo announced that she would be pursuing her solo career, fast forward to 2012 and she releases Filled. A 26 track DVD concert, shot at the legendary Lyric Theatre in Johannesburg.
I had high expectations when watching the DVD because I am quite familiar with her previous work (my mom collects Joyous Celebration DVD’s AND CD’s) and boy oh boy, she certainly didn’t disappoint.
The concert opens with an up-tempo set consisting of the songs Yebo and Time To Migrate(my personal favourite). It further continues with the mid-tempo Worthy Is The Lamb and then the low-tempo style worship songs that Ntokozo has become known for. These include Fill Me and More Of You (another favourite of mine).
After the two English songs, Ntokozo moves on to sing in her native tongue, isiZulu. Inxaniwe Inhliziyo, which has been nominated for a Crown Gospel Award, is the leader of the pack, followed by Ungefaniswe, Uyingcwele and Izwi Lakho. After this set, she returns to the English songs.
She later takes the audience back to her roots with songs that she grew up with. This is a real treat for the audience as they sing along to songs like Because He loved Me So and Yek’ Umusa. Then she returns with the up-tempo Alright, which proves to be quite a crowd pleaser.
The highlight is when she sings In The Shadow, which to date, is her most recognisable song. The crowd joins her in singing the song.
Stand-out tracks for me, are Time To Migrate, More Of You, John 3:16(I’ve Been Set Free) and Mbonge.
Vocally, Ntokozo does not disappoint. Every note and key is on the right place, which makes for goosebumps every now and then. Her backing vocalists (mostly band members from Joyous Celebration) also remain on point throughout.
The only problem I had, was that some of the songs were a bit short. I also had a problem with the fact that some songs sounded more like refrains, which is very common with gospel music. But over and above, I was really blessed.
I give Filled a whopping 8.5 out of 10. I can not wait to see what she does next!
Here is a video of Ntokozo performing her smash hit, In The Shadow a few years ago. Enjoy!
PS: Vote for Inxaniwe Inhliziyo to win best gospel song at the SABC Crown Gospel Awards. SMS ‘Best Gospel Song Ntokozo Mbambo Inxaniwe’ to 34069.
PPS: Purchase your copy of Filled HERE.