Date:11 October 2020 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
The legendary musician Mr Nthatheni Elvis Mudau (70), known among music fans as Elvis Mandiza, speaks fondly of his musical journey through the decades.
Born at Ngwenani ya Mapholi village, he is the first-born child of Mr Makwarela William Mudau and Mrs Tshinakaho Mudau. Elvis herded cattle and goats when growing up at Ngwenani. He attended Tshidzini and Ngudza primary schools but did not pursue his secondary education after graduating from primary school.
“I am a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who ventured onto the music scene in 1961, by learning to play mbila,” he said. “In 1964, I learnt to play guitar, using a home-made guitar made of an oil container, plank, nails and telephone strings.”
He entered the music industry in 1976 as part of the band known as Bidela Singo & Malende Boys, alongside Bidela Singo from Mukula village. The band recorded a number of songs with a variety of record labels in Gauteng. Some of their tracks were recorded at the then Radio Venda’s studios in Louis Trichardt.
“Those were the days of music, and some of the songs which I recorded with Malende Boys are Ha funi (A thi divhi uri ndi ite hani), Tshidimela, Ho fariwa Gija, Ri dzula Sibasa, Tshakhuma, Tshitiriri, Vho-Nelly, Ha-Tshikambe ndi kule, and Vhana vha Vhavenda,” he recalled.
Elvis Mandiza left Malende Boys and formed a band called Sibasa Pirates in 1979 and he became the lead guitarist and lead vocalist of the band. One of the band members of Sibasa Pirates was Ndiviseni Dan Tshanda of Splash, Dalom Kids and Matshikos fame. He was Sibasa Pirates’ bass guitarist and is one of the many famous musicians who learnt the art of music from Elvis Mandiza.
“We released an album entitled VV Botsotso in 1980, which sold over 17 000 copies, and the song Ni Ambara Sutu won The Radio Venda Nambi Ya Dzinambi Award (Best Vocal Group) in 1981,” he said.
In 2008, Elvis Mandiza released a solo album that was recorded by Zozo at Sengere Super Beat Studios. It was produced by Elvis Mandiza and his son, Edward Mandiza. “It comprised hit songs such as Vhahura, Tshikambe, Magaraba, Thevhele, Nwana uya lila, and Makhanane,” he said.
Out of his 12 children (nine girls and three boys), Acolly Mandiza (who is the second-last) is the only one who is taking the career of his father to the next level as a singer.
Today, Elvis Mandiza stays at Tshikambe village with his three wives, Vho-Esther, Vho-Mavis and Vho-Eunice. He is a successful vegetable farmer who also owns a timber plantation.
In June this year, Mandiza released a full-length album entitled Tshikangavhiya, which comprises songs such as Tshikangavhiya, Cotona, Masindi, Khakhathi dza mutani, Ho vuwa lihanya, Vharangaphanda, and Ndo vha tshinya mini.
To buy a copy of Tshikangavhiya kindly contact 068 175 4335 or follow the group on Facebook (Elvis Mandiza & Sibasa Pirates).
Mr Nthatheni Elvis Mudau (70), known among music fans as Elvis Mandiza. Picture supplied.
By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.