What’s the first thing you think of when you think about music?
LEBO answers immediately: “Love.”
Marked by a sense of optimism and change, South African singer LEBO Masemola grew up among a multitude of musical influences from Roberta Flack and Sade blasting out of boom boxes, to her parents dancing to township music and American jazz, Miriam Makeba and Billie Holiday. LEBO’s childhood unfolded in a country in crisis. Her parents were active supporters of Mandela, and LEBO could sense the tension they felt living in the countryside in northern South Africa. She was always surrounded by song, whether at home with her family or out with friends, in church or at a protest:
„Life in South Africa is filled with music. So my family was always singing.“
Attending the Rudolf Steiner School in Pretoria, LEBO learned more about Vivaldi and Bach than she did about soul. But her passion for music only grew, and it was here that she met an inspiring Norwegian music teacher. He was impressed by the fourteen-year-old girl with the loud laugh and defiant look, and without further ado invited her on a classical music tour of Scandinavia.
Soon enough, the inquisitive LEBO had packed up her life and moved to Hamburg, Germany, where she ran into the South African m’baqanga band Dube. The years she spent playing with the group gave LEBO her first opportunity to truly mature as a musician and get acquainted with her musical roots.
„The good thing about being in Germany is that I actually got to understand and appreciate South African music and culture.“
LEBO kept playing, determined to share her thoughts and experiences with the world. She began to write music herself and soon founded a band of her own to perform and record her songs.