Music

Mahotella Queens

Formed 1964.
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The Mahotella Queens - Hush and Listen

The Mahotella Queens stun a 1989 Johannesburg audience with their pumping track Hush and Listen and an eye-bogglingly fantastic dance routine. Taken from the BBC Arena Rhythms of The World: The Indestructable Beat of Soweto

Featured in BBC Music Clips

Biography

The Mahotella Queens is a South African female group formed in 1964 by music producer Rupert Bopape. Originally a studio recording group consisting of around five or six singers, the current line-up of the Queens comprises Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Amanda Nkosi. The group is noted for their distinct vocal harmony sound, guitar-led mbaqanga music and fast-paced stage dancing.

Bopape was a talent scout and producer at the independent Gallo Africa's then-subsidiary dedicated to black music, Mavuthela Music Company. He formed the Mahotella Queens as the company's resident girl group and the ensemble, often led by the deep-voiced male vocals of Simon 'Mahlathini' Nkabinde, went on to have many hit records during the 1960s. The Queens line-up during this period usually comprised Hilda Tloubatla, Juliet Mazamisa, Ethel Mngomezulu, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola. The Queens and Mahlathini were backed by Mavuthela's house band, the Makgona Tsohle Band (comprising several talented instrumentalists including Marks Mankwane on lead guitar and West Nkosi on alto saxophone). In 1972 the line-up of the Mahotella Queens disintegrated after royalty disagreements with Bopape; Mahlathini left the company in a similar dispute with the producer. However, with a change of membership, the Queens remained productive and popular into the 1970s and 1980s. In 1987, following the explosion of interest in South African music, the Queens line-up was rejigged and three of its original singers – Hilda Tloubatla, Nobesuthu Mbadu and Mildred Mangxola – returned to the group. In combination with Mahlathini, the group forged a successful international touring career that lasts to this day.

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