It has hardly been a month since the release of his gospel single and Rhodes University gospel artist and final year Bachelor of Arts student, Praise Ntsako Mathebula is already leading the Google Play Gospel charts with his song-Pfuxelela, which means ‘Revive’.
Praise Smo, his stage name, recorded his debut album in August last year at the Rhodes University Box Theatre. The 15-track album includes his hit single, Pfuxelela which has been dubbed “The Revival Prayer” by his fans.
His single was released on 14 August 2020 and it has been very well received. It has been in the top 10 of the Google Play Gospel charts since its release, rose to number 9 on the overall Google Play chart on 17 August, and made its way to the number one spot by 22 August.
“I wrote this song as a prayer to God for revival, not just for me but for the world at large. It has been well-received by the public, even those that do not speak Xitsonga – because it is very relevant for the times that we are currently living in. The pandemic has hurt every one of us in different ways. I firmly believe that we are all in need of a revival,” explained Praise.
The 24-year old student hails from Mpumalanga, Bushbuckridge and grew up in a music-loving staunch Christian family. However, his music career only started gaining traction when he left home for university. “Before that, music was just a hobby even though I was under the vigorous music tutelage of my uncle Daniel Mdhluli (instrument playing) and my aunt Tiyiselani Ndhlovu (voice). It was only after I left for university that I began having a serious urge to forge out a music career. I used every opportunity to be involved in musical activities in and around campus,” he said.
Praise's interest in music started getting serious when he met his current producer, manager and mentor Elijah Madiba, a manager at the International Library of African Music (ILAM) at Rhodes University in his first year of study. “Madiba fine-tuned my musical abilities and provided me with the platforms and resources to realise my dream of being a musician,” he said.
His lecturer in music, culture, history and instrumental music studies, Boudina McConnachie, said she watched Praise’s growth from his first year. “Praise joined the department to specialise in music when the new African Musical Arts course was introduced. I knew from then that he was motivated and passionate enough to go far in his music career. The whole ILAM team is doing an amazing job of nurturing young talent through the teaching of African music. I believe that this is just the beginning of his journey,” she said.