BCUC’s Musical Revival Continues to Enchant Global Audiences

by | Dec 8, 2023 | Entertainment, Entertainment, Kulture, Latest, Music, News | 0 comments

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Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (BCUC) continues to leave global audiences spellbound with their galvanizing sound and electric live performances. But despite the newly-found international success, the band promises to remain true to their essence.

By: Thanduxolo ‘Thandz’ Buti
Main image: Supplied

BCUC gained a reputation for their exhilarating performances in Johannesburg’s underground scene. The band has always brought enthralling spiritual energy and a social message when the music industry seemed to be moving towards consumerism, aesthetics and fleeting romance. 

Their shows resemble intlombe (a spiritual and musical event by traditional healers) and ignite a cosmic spiritual force that makes them one of the most special live acts to come from South Africa. Their effortless fusion of mbaqanga, gospel, spoken word, afro soul and choral music, sees them curate a new musical path that always sets them apart from the rest and makes them a hit with audiences, locally and abroad.

Formed in Soweto, the band comprises of Nkosi “Jovi” Zithulele, Kgomotso Mokone, Thebe “Cheex” Mangle, Mritho Luja, Lehlohonolo “Hloni” Maphunye, and Skhumbuzo Mahlangu.

Today, they are no longer buried treasure hidden in underground live music spaces. They have been touring extensively internationally and cultivating a mass following. In 2019, they performed at one of the biggest music festivals in the world, the Glastonbury Festival. 

Watch BCUC performing at the WOMEX 23 Awards in Spain:

Apart from touring Europe and the USA, this year BCUC released their first full-length album titled Millions of Us. The record sees them pushing their sound to new frontiers and has been called their most ambitious offering to date.

Blacklight: Congratulations on your latest album “Millions of Us” and your successful international tour. How would you describe where you are currently as a band?
Thank you very much. It is difficult to gauge where we are [now] because there is no one to look up to or learn from. What we know is that we are slowly, very slowly becoming who we always thought we were.

BL: Not many South African bands/musicians get to break through internationally, and you have cultivated a great following abroad. What do you think is your crossover appeal?
We have made a name for ourselves by being ruthless and incessant on stage. We don’t rely on being black in white spaces but put in a lot of work and have developed a reputation for giving epic shows.

BL: You started on humble stages in South Africa, and now you headline major international music festivals across the globe. How did your early performances prepare you for becoming a global act? 
South Africa, or should we say Johannesburg, is a tough place to make a name for yourself because there are so many great bands and most are more technically endowed than us. With that being said, we always knew that our spirituality is our fuel and the moment we leaned on to it a whole new world opened [for us]. From then on we never looked back; we never tried to compete or compare ourselves with what was happening in the scene.

BL: You come from an era of “Live Black Alternative Bands” when Johannesburg was still the mecca of live music. As a live act, what are your thoughts on the current live music climate in South Africa, especially Johannesburg?
It is very much alive and very healthy but it is just not seen by the mainstream because it has gone underground. If there is no support from mainstream players the music never stops, it finds alternative ways to continue living. The music is more in the backyards and humble shanty (and improvised) performance areas.

BL: What are your thoughts on South African bands/artists finding more success and mass appeal abroad than at home? How do you, as artists, reconcile with the fact that little has been done locally to create spaces for artists to practice and thrive?
Eish! The problem is that community centres are no longer accessible to artists, they have become churches or charge a lot for rehearsal spaces and it is killing the inspiration of the next generation. About South African bands killing it overseas: it was bound to happen [because] South African artists are good enough if not overqualified.

BL: You are a seven-piece band, and ensuring that a group of talented people is harmonious and in total alignment can be challenging. How do you manage to continue pushing your vision forward as a unit?
We stay harmonious by fighting a lot and not letting things simmer or act as if they don’t exist. For us, the quicker we face the conflict the sooner it gets resolved. The other big thing that works for us is that we are a democracy, but we don’t have a group leader, we all lead different avenues of our band and business.

BCUC delivering another stellar performance at an International music festival. [Image: Supplied]

BL: As an African act that has found success internationally, how do you remain authentic while in the fishbowl of the music world where becoming a successful band often requires one to fit into the narrow pop music formula?
We know that our Africanness is the first thing that people see when they interact with our music, but we also know that once we start playing and you hear our influences and genre-bending, nature takes over. Our authenticity stems from us constantly coming back home instead of trying to escape hunger (for lack of a better word). Fitting into the narrow pop music formula is not part of the future that we have envisioned for ourselves, instead, we think we are the future of pop—the audience is just still not aware [Ha ha ha!]

BL: What has been the pinnacle of your career so far, and how did you continue to build from that momentum?
At the 2016 Trans Musicales, in France, we played in a hall full of strangers who all thought that we were the most amazing thing they have ever seen. Ever since that show we have been addicted to that feeling of making something that people in your country think won’t work, and seeing it amaze and mesmerize strangers worldwide.

BL: What do you hope the legacy of your BCUC will be in Africa and internationally?
We hope to be one of the best to ever do it. Our next chapter is being written everyday and it depends on what we do and contribute to our karma. 

BCUC’s latest album “Millions of Us” is available for download and streaming on all leading music platforms.

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