Zamajobe on her hiatus, going independent and new music

After her time off from music, Zamajobe Sithole is back again with new music and she boasts a new attitude.

By: Staff writer

Zamajobe is infamous for taking lengthy breaks in between her records. Since her last record, Thula Mntwana (2013), she reveals that she went on a musical hiatus just to reconnect with herself.

On 27 June she re-emerged with her new song Sobabili on the Fresh breakfast show on Metro FM. The new single from her upcoming album is the quintessential Zamajobe; a soulful and jazzy sound that has been praised by fans who already slate it as a hit.

Many took to social media to welcome her back and show love for the new song:

SivuyileNongwe‏ @sirDeBrand: @leratokganyago for playing Sobabili, demmmmet I love @Zamajobe, been a fan for like tjeeeere, since high school.

Bhoza Mphela‏ @MissBhoza: Zamajobe sounding good. Welcome back #sobabili #FreshBreakfast.

@watile: What a refreshing talent. #classicvoices#sobabili. Thank you for great music #zippingthroughlife.

Mandla Ka Duma: Hi Zama. The single it’s a hit. It’s on point. I am buying it.

The singer is elated that her fans are falling in love with the track.  “It’s super great,” she shares.

“I had so many tracks that are a bit different musically and represent a grown version of me. I wanted to release those tracks first but eventually I just went for that standard Zamajobe track. I wanted the first single to be that song that comes on and automatically people know it’s a Zama track.”

As I speak to her, Zamajobe seems to be pulsating positive energy. She explains that her break really helped her get a deeper insight on her career.

“I moved to Polokwane for a couple of years and I had an Eat, Love, Pray moment,” she adds.

“Relaxing was good because as soon as I came back to Johannesburg, I just tapped into work mode. I feel like it really benefited me because I just started writing all these songs and even though I didn’t like some of them, I just carried on. I got into a space of creating and seeing the process through even when I did not like what I was doing.”

While away Zamajobe also decided to take full control of her career and go independent. She cut ties with Sony Music and opened her own label Afrofunk.

“I had a seven-year contract with Sony and it came to an end but I stayed an extra two or three years, anyway.

On the last album I did with them, I feel like I had a lot of limitations. I wanted to try new things but I wasn’t given much freedom to do so. I then decided not to renew, but there were no hard feelings.”

Zamajobe is in control

The singer says she did go into talks with a few labels but things would not materialise.  Not wanting to be held back, Zama says she put money aside from gigs and went back into the studio.

“I found myself almost done with the album and I realised that I was doing what I needed the label to do for me, on my own. I learned that the spirit of moving forward no matter what is so important because you find yourself doing so much without even realising it,” she explains.

With a new found vision for her career, the singer says going independent proved to be a seamless transition. But she also cites her strong attitude of never letting anything deter her from accomplishing her goals.

“I am the type of person who never lets things get to me. If there is a challenge I find a way to get over it.  I see the challenges as things I need to solve and get over. There is nothing that challenges me to a point where I would want to quit.”

As Zamajobe prepares to release her fifth album, her debut album Ndawo Yami – released in 2004 at the age of 19 – is still widely popular. It’s still considered a masterpiece and has influenced many young afro soul/jazz female singers, including new star Zoe Madiga.

“It feels good to know that I influenced a few singers because sometimes I feel like I have done a lot and I am the least acknowledged. It’s not nice to know that you played an important hand in pushing the movement forward, and not get any credit for it,” she shares.

With more than a decade in the industry, Zamajobe says she is still intent on carving her own path musically. While many categorise her as just a soul/jazz artist, she has explored many genres like reggae, funk, dance and afro pop. This led to a few misunderstanding her as an artist.

“I feel like being misunderstood creates a lot of misconceptions and you can only avoid that by understanding yourself and being clear about who you are,” she explains.

“Now I really want to solidify my musical identity. I want to have that signature that even when others do the same thing, people will recognise that it’s Zama’s thing. If I achieve that there won’t be any misconceptions about me.”

As for what to expect from the upcoming album – which still does not have a release date – Zamajobe says people can expect a grown up version of her.

“The album will be more energetic. I know that I have a laid back approach musically but I also want to groove without losing my temperament.”

Zamajobe’s new single Sobabili is available on iTunes.

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