South African-born Jessica Mbangeni’s career is on a full high definition mode, buoyed by the past three years’ positive developments, which include a flurry of contracts to showcase her talent overseas and the opening of a fashion design business.
“I continue to listen to my inner voice, and I’m still in touch with myself despite all these positive developments as I believe that we don’t only inherit material things, but also spiritual things,” the bubbly and multi-talented singer, actress, poet and fashion designer tells Moon of the South.
“Thanks partly to my ancestors who are always visiting me, bringing me very close to them, and therefore blessing me,” 34-year-old Mbangeni, a former member of Soweto Gospel Choir, reveals. She joined award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir in 2001 and resigned in 2006. She still has fond memories of overseas trips she undertook with the group, including performing in Germany, Canada, France and 37 cities across the US.
Mbangeni’s first single, a live recording project, has two songs, IGoli and Amangontsi. Lawrence Matshiza was in charge of the CD’s artistic direction, while Mbangeni was the executive producer. The CD was being distributed by her company KwaNtu Entertainment & Designs. “It’s an amazing feeling to work with the likes of Lawrence and Fana Zulu,” the mother of two boys says, smiling.
“The message in IGoli is simple: our brothers should be very careful of women they bring to the family because the world has become a place where people no longer have respect for culture and traditions,” she explains. She describes a woman who lacks respect for culture and traditions as a ‘galloping distance’. Mbangeni, an eternal homely woman brimming with disciplinary values learned during her childhood in rural Eastern Cape, says African families need a bride or groom who has a living conscience.
“We need hard thinking not ranting – thinkers – people armed with self-control who just don’t talk for the sake of talking, but talk to bring real change.” Amagontsi recounts the memories of her childhood, which consists of, among others, riding horses. “It reminds me of the world of my ancestors, a legacy we have to sustain at all costs.”
Very few people would have expected her to open a fashion design business, which she finally did in a bustling area of Newtown, near the Johannesburg city centre. Asked how she juggles between the demanding schedules of being an actress, singer, poet and fashion designer, she replies: “The values you learned at school, in church, in a community as a child somehow help you to build a huge sense of determination and dedication as you grow up and mature.”
“As a creative soul, you will never stop being creative because the spirit of creativity lies and rests within your soul. I’ll continue to grow according to God’s plans. I want to be profound and remain the advocate of my culture.”