Charma’s royal treat

Portia Mlilo

A bumper crowd is expected next weekend at the National Stadium when renowned award winning Mosakaso queen, Magdeline ‘Charma Gal’ Lesolebe, hosts the long awaited special concert featuring legendary Congolese Rhumba star, Kofi Olomide.

Dubbed ‘Kgosi Ya Mosadi’ the much publicised show is aimed at celebrating Charma Gal’s illustrious career in the music industry.

The 38-year-old ‘Sekuta’ hit maker is one of the founding members and lead singer of the group Culture Spears, which was founded back in 2005.

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Culture Spears first came into prominence not only locally but internationally with their debut album dubbed Korone.

She then left Culture Spears to form her own group, Charma Gal Productions and has since released nine albums as a solo artist.

Among her many accolades, Charma Gal prides herself in various international collaborations she made including with Zimbabwe’s Jah Prayzah and the South African duo of Master KG and Makhadzi and many other local artists.

Our reporter Portia Mlilo had a chat with this songbird about her music career journey and the concert.

Kindly share with us your journey in music.

I started off as a dancer and singer for Moeng College traditional group.

In 2004, Kabelo Mogwe, Thembeni Ramosetlheng and myself formed Culture Spears.

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The group produced hit albums for years, gracing prominent events in and outside the country as well as bagging numerous awards.

In 2009 we started Ekentolo group in which I was featuring different artists.

In 2014 I focused more on my solo career, which has blossomed over the years to date.

Charma's royal treat

Why did you go solo?

I think in life we need to grow and this was part of my growth.

A lot occurred in this journey of life.

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I am still part of Culture Spears and we have released some songs together after I went solo.

Why did you choose Mosakaso genre?

I chose it because it was unique and it was not congested locally.

The music also appeals to many, both young and old.

What challenges have you faced in your music career?

The biggest challenge among them all was losing my band members in a car crash, even to date I’m still battling with the trauma.

The other challenge is that it is difficult to make money in this industry and you need to put in a lot of effort to get the attention of the small market.

Sometimes we spend money planning to host festivals and the turn up is not good enough hence making a loss.

But we soldier on! This is my calling.

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And what would you say has been the highlight?

It was when I performed in Australia during Botswana Independence celebrations hosted by our embassy.

One of my greatest achievements was in 2015 when I won four awards at the 7th Botswana Musicians Union awards.

I walked away with the album of the year award for Sekuta sa ga Charma Gal album, song of the year, Sekuta sa ga Charma Gal, best female artist and won the best mosakaso award.

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I became the first artist to have two songs nominated for Song of the Year.

My two songs Sekuta and Mosepele wa Lerato battled it for song of the year award.

As a song writer, what do you focus on when you compose a song?

Anything that comes to mind but mostly I am inspired by my life experiences and things happening around the world. (She laughs).

Some of the lyrics come in my dreams and I just wake up and write them or I do voice record with my phone.

What inspired the idea of the upcoming Kgosi Ya Mosadi concert?

New followers and new fans don’t know where I started so I want to share my music career journey.

I will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to my deceased dancers.

Back in 2016, five of my backing dancers died in the horrific road accident on our way from a show in Kang.

A seven-seater minibus they were travelling in overturned after a tyre burst resulting in the tragedy.

I intend to use proceeds from the show to erect their tombstone and share whatever is left with their families.

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I want to honour them because they made me and contributed a lot in my music business.

Why did you decide to bring Kofi to your show?

He is the only artist who matched the concept.

He has a lot of experience in the music industry and a huge international appeal.

He represents success and consistency.

I understand the last time he was here was about 17 years ago and a lot of people will want to see him performing live again.

The preparations are going well, everything is in place and we are just waiting for the special day.

Activations are ongoing in different areas and we are selling the tickets and merchandise.

How did you get to collaborate with Jah Prayzah, Master KG and Makhadzi?

I think technology has made our lives easier.

We are now able to have a conversation with other artist across the world and seal the deals.

Other artists are able to watch my live performances and listen to my music.

I met the international artists I collaborated with through the internet, we exchanged numbers and started communicating.

We met and recorded songs.

What do you enjoy most when you are on stage performing?

My fans singing along and dancing to my songs.

I really appreciate them because it means they listen, understand the lyrics and enjoy my music. Ke a leboga.

What advice can you give to young and upcoming artists?

Fear not, only believe! Like I mentioned before, most artists make no money in this industry.

We are just driven by passion. You have to be patient. Take time to compose and record the song so that it can be more appealing.

Don’t rush because you end up releasing and you will not get any bookings for shows, nominated for the awards and no one will buy your music.

How do you balance your career and being a mother?

It is not an easy thing since both need my attention but I am trying.

I am overprotective when it comes to my three boys.

How do you overcome the challenge of cyber bullying?

No one survives that unless you are made of metal! (chuckles)…I have been bullied a lot especially about my personal and love life.

It is one thing which makes me aggressive and have a lot of anger.

Sometimes I refuse when people see me at the mall and ask to take pictures with me.

Just this Monday at North Gate Mall in Gaborone, some ladies asked for a picture the other one said she does not want to curse herself taking a picture with a divorcee.

I just walked away and I was deeply hurt. Some attack me on social media and insult me.

One day I will open a cybercrime case and set an example, maybe the bullies learn a valuable lesson.

Who is your inspiration?

My mother. I am what I am today because of her.

She is also a good singer I guess I took after her. She even assists me with other Setswana phrases to add in my songs.

Thank God it’s Friday, what are your plans for the weekend?

I have been booked to perform in Johannesburg, South Africa and I have other business deals to take care of.

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