MOLOKO KGOMO - “NKEMELE”
Moloko Kgomo spent his early years as a herdboy in Ga-Matlala, a few kilometers from Polokwane in Limpopo. The launch of his debut album, “Nkemele” by Cool Spot Productions is certain to confound many with its ingenuity. Kgomo unleashes untapped idioms and chord work informed by the Ba-Pedi culture, which permeates his rural home of Ga-Matlala.
While his parents lived in the urban area of Seshego in Polokwane, he was brought up by his grand parents in rural Ga-Matlala. It was while herding cattle with other youngsters at the age of 8 that they made tin guitars to kill time. They have indulged enough in hunting, killing snakes and swimming that they turned to music.
While visiting his parents he discovered that their neighbour Dicks Mabutla also played an acoustic guitar. After passing matric in 1994, Kgomo wanted to join the army. When he was not signed up, he took up mechanical engineering at the Shikoane Matlala Technical College in Seshego. But whenever he was free, he found time only to practice on Mabutla’s guitar. Clearly satisfied that his protégé had improved manifold, Mabutla stopped lending him his guitar because he wanted him to buy his own.
Kgomo decided to stay away from school for a week to do part time work that paid him R37.00 a day. With R185.00 in his pocket by weekend, he bought his own acoustic guitar. He immersed himself into mastering it, not aware that he had attracted the scrutiny of another muso from the vicinity. When the man asked Kgomo to play a tune for him, he was taken aback. Kgomo played his own jazz composition, which charmed the man known as Molamo who invited him to his place. Although not a professional musician, Molamo had instruments and had put together a band that included a bassist, a vocalist and himself on keyboards. Kgomo completed the ensemble as the lead guitarist.
He dumped his mechanical engineering studies and travelled in 1998 to Johannesburg to study music at Funda Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto. There he learned theory, African instruments such as marimba and djembe, the piano, saxophone and guitar. Whereas he wanted to major in piano, he was asked to do so, on a guitar because there was nobody as good as him in the school band.
Under the leadership of Zami Duze, Funda Center attended the 1999 Grahamstown National Youth Jazz Festivals for auditions and workshops. Interacting with other aspirant musicians from universities, technikons and advanced music centres, it dawned on him that he still had a lot to learn. When the band again attended the jazz festival in 2000, he captured the fancy of Darryl Andrews, a guitar lecturer from the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Andrews facilitated his acceptance as a student at UCT College of Music in 2000. Kgomo had Grade 5 music certificate from Funda Centre. Whereas his parents paid for his Funda Centre studies, he was lucky to get a government loan and a UCT bursary. He was encouraged to learn that the likes of Selaelo Selota, Jimmy Dludlu and Judith Sephuma had just qualified. Determined to make a success of his studies, he was given a merit award in his first year.
After four years of honing his musical tools, he graduated in 2004 and returned to Johannesburg. To sharpen his playing, he frequented Funda Centre (where he is presently a part-time music tutor) for jam sessions. Unfortunately for him, the guitar he had bought from his mentor Andrews was stolen. Once again fate intervened and somebody introduced him to Tom Vuma, the man who discovered Steve Kekana. Lending such an unpolished gem, Vuma did not hesitate to invest in him. He bought him a brand new acoustic guitar and also negotiated a deal for him with Cool Spot Productions.
In 2005 Moloko Kgomo release his debut album, “Nkemele” produced by Tom Vuma, an offering pregnant with tit-bits of marabi, bee-bop, story telling, today’s influences and most importantly, folk music which included dinaka (horns). The elements of the different influences, is musically fused into an album that is certain to rock. Kgomo is the new jazz kid on the block. This much will be confirmed after the industry has imbibed of tracks like “Thobela Africa”, “Stokvel”, “Train Smoke”, “Democracy”, “Borakgolo”, “Getting there”, “Ke boela gae”, “Khethile, Khethile” and “Gauteng”. His debut album was well received and awarded with a fair amount of airplay on Thobela F.M., Lesedi F.M., S.A. F.M., Munghana Lonene, Ikwekwezi F.M., Kaya F.M. and Phalaphala F.M.
To date, Moloko Kgomo has performed in various gigs including the “SABC 2 Family of the Year” at Zoo Lake, Bassline, Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival and the Wake Up Fest where he shared the stage with Cassette, Uju, Gang of Instrumental and Steadyrock!. As a session musician he played alongside Tlale Makhene, Bernice Boikanyo, Sello Montwedi and also worked with Khaya Mahlangu, Jay Hlongwane, Khaya, Kwela Tebza and the late Moses Khumalo among others. In 2006 Moloko Kgomo played in a musical play called “Guga Mzimba” directed by Xoli Norman. There he performed alongside Tshepo Mngoma and Jesse Mogale. In June 2008 Moloko Kgomo was part of the musical play "Get Down" directed by the veteran Director Paul Rapetsoe. Among top musicians there was the bassist, Mandla Zikalala. The same year in September he played in another musical play called "African Queen". This time he was working with flutist Kelly Petlane, vocalist Labella with Tshepo Mngoma as the music director.
Moloko Kgomo decided to form a four piece band together with his former school band mate at UCT, Sipho Malinga. The band consisted of him (guitar), Sipho Malinga (drums) and two session musicians on piano and bass where Moloko Kgomo spent most of 2008 gigging with the band. They named the band Minor Jazz Band and played in the Puisano Jazz Competition. They impressed the judges and were awarded a few municipal areas within Johannesburg to play around the townships as part of the Programme. The band went ahead to impress on a national television programme called Afro Café.