Sipho “The Big Fish” Makhabane is never shot of surprises, for more than a decade the gospel community would wait in awe of what is about to serve , and he never disappointed, his lyrical content has always been of encouragement , praise and worship, H e is here now to confirm the bad and good news of his exit from the Gospel Music stage, However he do not leave us alone, he leave us with a thank giving album which he just put together, Yes he has released a new album titles EBENEZER, meaning “ He led me to this far.
Asked about the Unusual Title Makhabane agreed “ yes God has been the pillar of my strength, my shepherd, my father my friend my everything, this ride was not an easy one, I am where I am today and I have every thing I have because of Him, is only relevant to say Ebebezer Baba, meaning thank you for leading me to this far” I thank God for his protection over my life, over my family for giving me the talent , I am so overwhelmed by his love and care for me, I just want to sum it all up in this one last studio album, I ve got so much to thank Him for,
As compared to many albums that are release now,Big Fish felt the necessity to thank God one can even call it a Thanks giving album. Most songs are happy and danceable which makes the soul happy and satisfied with this spiritual sound. Why not call it a surprise album, He surprised his older fans by Featuring one of the original members of Amanxusa ka Krestu,Jabu Ngcobo whom you can expect to hear her anointed voice in track two, where there is more talent displayed by the voices of Hlengiwe Mhlaba and Tshepiso Motaung,
He show-cased the producing skills of Percy Ingle ,who has been producing for many gospel artists such as Rebecca Malope and Deborah Fraser, Pastor Jabu Nkabinde also is featured in track 5, Kholwa ku Jesu which is a beautiful rendition using three S.A Lounguages.
So the album is pregnant with all these grateful emotions, well produced melody and well arranged music is the results of precious years of musical experience and dedicated soul and spirit to the passions bestowed upon him,
Makhabane retired officially in 2010 in a much publicized event at the Pretoria State theatre, He handed over his microphone to pastor Ncanda as a symbol of his retirement from the Gospel Music industry. All his singing was captured on a live DVD together with an Audio CD, The DVD was released at the end of 2010 and now he is about to drop the audio simply titled : The best of Sipho Makhabane: Live at the Pretoria State Theatre. This is his last release as a performing artist, he wishes to focus his energies to helping the young talent of South Africa.
Makhabane was born 3rd September 1965, he is the first of four children. He was born from a poor family which could not afford a cheap Bantu Education, At only 46 years old, Sipho Makhabene affectionately called The Big Fish has turned the Gospel Music scene around. He is counted among the legends of this country. And now he fell is the time do his good byes the legendary way,
More than a decade ago, he made his mark as gospel Musician. Musicians from other genres came and vanished into the air, some even changed the type of music they were doing, but He is stood firm on the music that changed people’s lives.
Life was never easy for the young Sipho His father passed away when he was very young, this situation forced him to leave school in standard 3(grade5) at that tender age(15) to fill his fathers boots by providing for his mother and his siblings, his first job was at Kaalrus Sugar Cane Farm in Mpumalanga, when he was 17 years old he moved on for greener pastures, he got another job at Kruger National Park this time was working for a construction company, they were building, the rest camps for the park.
By the time he was 21 Sipho was a skilled construction worker, he got another job in Pienaar doing construction work, in 1986 he got a better offer at Telkom as a technician, between those years he developed a great passion for Gospel music, That was the birth of a business man in him, he realized he could make better money with Music, to support his wife and kids he started buying and selling music in and outside South Africa, he got married in 1990 to his wife of 18 years
All these years when he was juggling between being a rep and a technician for Telkom in his heart was a burning desire to record his own album. he recorded his own gospel music and started to enjoy singing than fixing telephone lines, now the trick was to convince the dealers to buy from him, they were not believing on his talent, until they heard it from Radio Swazi(Ligwalagwala FM) That magical song was Ngitinikela kuwe finally in 1996 he retired from Telkom and he concentrated on his music career
After all this years of exposing him self to the Gospel Music Scene, his break finally came in 1996 when he released yek’intokozo, to this day his fans still remembers him by that song , he soon forgot the struggle he went through and continued to compose good gospel. Though yek’intokozo was not his first release, before this hit he had already released two other albums namely THUM’UMLOLO and JESU ULIQHAWE . This he released between 1999 and 1993.
In 1998 CCP records released his fourth album titled UYIGUGU as usual it was a hit, he kept on climbing the ladder of success, his 1999 offering was titled MAKADUNYISWE that was the album to remember it was containing songs like qhawe lase calvary .2001 saw him releasing the album Calvary. this album did well in the market with the sales of over 21 units.
None of the gospel fans will forget Akukhalwa, it had the same impact as yek intokozo , it was a sing along. He relased this one in 2002, this song itself goes straight to the heart leaving the longing of seeing what heavens look like. it sold more than 70 000 copies. Nothing will stop him from composing good gospel music. In 2003 he released Moya wami. This was truly a wondrous release. The video for this title song was very humorous one. It sold more than 70 000.
Sipho Makhabane is the man behind many successful gospel artists, he started by producing ,marketing and distributing Shongwe and Khuphuka Saved Group He groomed the likes of Frans Dlamini, Ncandweni Christ Ambassodors, Khuzizono. And now Sipho is the man behind the successful career of the Gospel Diva Hlengiwe Mhlaba. He shared his talent with a number of South African Musicians, by collaborating with Jabu Hlongwane, The late Vuyo Mokoena, Lundi, Hlengiwe Mhlaba,Malibongwe Gcwabe and many others, Produced well known musicians such as Hlengiwe Mhlaba,Nontando,Israel Mosehla, Mzwakhe Myeni, Tshepiso Motaung, and co –produced Sechaba’s first album
2004 Makhabane released NKOSI NGIBHEKE, it was difficult for the fans to choose the favorite from all those wonderful songs. In the track “guyizolo” he is simply thanking God for being unchanging father, he is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever. He always believed God for his life.Just after the release of the album he release the song of the very album but the instrumental version.
2005 he released UMUZI OMUHLE is his first album to be released by Sony-BMG, this was his first step to wards his international recognition Makhabane is truly invincible in this field, this was another heart blowing hit. the music in this album is so fresh , one can easily mistake him for first or second release. This album mrked the beginning of her journey with Hlengiwe Mhlaba., she was featured in this album.
NGIYAMEMEZA. Was his 15th release and his third album to be released by SONY/BMG which mark his international status the songs boast a strong social commentary, he leaves no stone unturned as he tackles the every day issues . In this one he sound very concerned about the problems that facing people especially Africans. He believes that there is a solution for every challenge encountered. Ngiyamemeza which is translated “I am shouting”. The message is a disparate plea for help. Sipho Makhabane is shouting to God for help He is tired of hearing all the media channels reporting about one thing, The consequence of Poverty. He took it upon himself to be the ambassador for the voiceless.
Sipho Makhabane ‘s voice is soulful and incredible instrument that he uses to sing straight from his heart and that the lyrics will resonate with everyone. Unlike sticking to a formula he strive for continuous growth in his albums,
The Easter season would ‘not be complete with out the release from the Big Fish himself, HAMBA NAMI was the title for his 2008 offering, Makhabane has always been an intercessor, he has always been concerned with the relationship between the human race and the Creator, the title is simply a prayer for The Creator to abide with the people.
The most cherished of all his achievements, he single handently established a music company from zero budget which today employs more than 10 people, Today Big Fish Music is counted among big companies under which Hlengiwe Mhlaba,Tshepiso are signed
All through the years his tunes would not only inspire you but remind you of the amazing power and glory spirituality can influence in your life, but also are purely, beautifully composed songs that are simply wonderful to listen to. his albums has a great deal of variety producing multiple vibes. The end result of a gospel vocalist dream, having a great deal to offer any listener who simply appreciates good music, and a beautiful voice, Makhabane just adds that dimension.
Bits and pieces
• Sipho has won various awards in his singing career,
• he took home 2007 South African Music Award for his collaboration album with Jabu Hlongwane of Joyous Celebration in the category: Best Traditional Gospel
• he also won the The Crown Gospel Awards:
• being nominated for Kora Awards, which recognizes artists from Africa and beyond was just an evidence that Sipho ‘s Music has touched not only South Africa, but the rest of the world.
• Swaziland has twice awarded him with Best Producer Glory awards in 2001 and 2007 respectively.
• 2008 he was awarded the The Mama Beka Community Empowerment
• He was featured on Joyous Celebration albums
• He shared the stage with international acts, like Kirk Franklin