Artist Profiles: Mahotella Queens

Mahotella Queens

The Mahotella Queens, Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesethu Mbadu, are part of the legend of urban South African music known as mbaquanga. In the early 1960s, they helped the legendary Simon Nkabindé Mahlathini (the “Lion of Soweto”) and the Makgona Tsothle Band create mbaqanga, a fusion of traditional South African tribal music (Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa) with marabi (South African jazz), blues, soul, and gospel.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played halls and township dances in South Africa. Their original sound was named the “indestructible beat of Soweto,” and their rhythmic dance music and soaring vocal harmonies embodied the spirit of the oppressed peoples of the townships. The group took a break in the mid-1970’s to raise families, but reunited with Malathini in 1987 for a successful tour of Europe and United States.

Following the tragic death of Mahlathini and the dissolution of the Makagona Tsothle Band in 1999, the Mahotella Queens struck out on their own with a national tour and released a recording entitled Sebai Bai. In 2000, they received the second annual WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) Award, presented for outstanding contribution to world music.


Marks Umthakathi (Gumba Gumba, 1972)
Umgqashiyo (Gumba Gumba, 1973)
Thatha Izimpahla Zakho (Igagasi, 1980)
Tsamaya Moratuoa (Gumba Gumba, 1980)
Mosese O Mosweu (Igagasi, 1982)
Ezesimanje (Hit Special, 1982)
Pitša Tše Kgolo (Hit Special, 1982)
Tse Hlwahlwa Tsa (Gumba Gumba, 1983)
Igagasi (IAL, 1983)
Khwatha O Mone (Hit Special, 1984)
Thokozile (Gallo Recording Company, 1987)
Menate Ea Lefatse (Black Music, 1987)
Melodi Yalla (Gallo Record Company, 1988)
Marriage Is A Problem (Shanachie, 1991)
Women Of The World (Gallo Record Company, 1993)
Sebai Bai (Indigo, 2000)
Bazobuya (Gallo Record Company, 2004)
Kazet (Marabi Productions, 2005)
Reign & Shine (Wrasse Records, 2006)
Siyadumisa – Songs of Praise (Bula Music, 2007)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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