Lesotho upcoming gospel artiste MinisterSpokes, hailing from Semonkong, in Maseru brought glory home after scooping the hotly contested Artist of the Year Award in the South Africaâ€™s Free State Gospel Music Awards, (FREESGOSMA 2021).
The awards ceremony was held on Saturday in Bloemfontein, under the auspices of Dups Tee Foundation â€“ a company founded in 2020 and led by â€™Molotsi Medupi.
MinisterSpokes real names, Poloko Mohlapiso from Ha Tsoinyana was competing with established names from Lesotho but against all odds, he won in his category.
The other 10 local artistes who battled against him included Katleho Moshe, Rorisang Motsamai, Majara Majara, Pastor M. Busa, â€™Marefiloe Bale, TÅ¡epo Kherenchane, Mosito SentÅ¡o, Khahliso Mphephuka, Lerato Mothobi and TÅ¡itso Chalatsi.
After receiving the award, MinisterSpokes expressed his delight saying he felt honoured to be one of the winners of the day, adding that the award means he is now well-recognised.
â€œI feel so overwhelmed. The victory will offer me great exposure to ensure that my music gets known. I am happy for my compatriots from Lesotho who were also nominated. Together we are going to hold a big show to thank our supporters for their votes as well as thank God for the award we brought home. It is a win for all of us, the 10 artistes who represented Lesotho in the competition,â€ he also said.
Speaking about his musical journey, MinisterSpokes indicated that singing gospel was for him not much of a challenge since he was raised in a Christian family and started singing in church at a tender age.
â€œWhen I arrived in the city (Maseru), I found my way into a then prominent gospel group called Yadah Praise Family and this is where my proficiency was honed and where I also gained a lot of experience.
â€œSharing the stage with accomplished artistes such as South African musos such as the late Sefiso Ncwane, Joyous Celebration and Lebo Sekgobela really gave me the much needed exposure,â€ he said.
In 2018, he recorded his 18-track debut album titled â€œThe Genesisâ€.
â€œI am in no hurry to release follow up albums as Iâ€™m presently marketing this album because it takes time to penetrate the market,â€ he explained.
â€œUnlike other gospel artistes who mix their music with other genres like Afro-Jazz, I stick to gospel because to me it is more than a gift but a calling. In future I would like to work with the likes of Benjamin Dube from SA,â€ he said confidently.
Speaking at the event, founder and organiser of FREESGOSMA, Medupi, indicated that their goal is to encourage hard work and high standards among gospel artistes from the Free State â€“ to also promote and expose their talent.
â€œWe are united for a common goal of celebrating the gospel creativities,â€ he also says.
Some of the categories in the competition included – Best Producer, Best Gospel Radio Show, Best Female Artist, Best Gospel Group, Best New Comer, Best Single of the Year, Best Album of the Year, Best Clap and Tap of the Year and many more.
South African artistes nominated included Sello Malete, Teboho Moloi and Musa Sithole.
One of the provinceâ€™s top gospel artistes, Tebogo Nkone won the Gospel Song of the Year award with his popular song â€œJeso Mopholusi wa kaâ€.
Meanwhile, the classy event held at the Ilanga Estate, saw Lesotho artistes team-up on stage and sing in tribute to the music icon and legendary jazz and gospel guru, TÅ¡epo Tshola.
Renowned musician and former member of Sankomota, Tshola, who was born and bred in Lesotho, died in July from Covid-19 related complications aged 67.