Mmegi Online :: Maxy, the epitome of cultural music
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Last Updated
Tuesday 13 November 2018, 16:21 pm.
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Maxy, the epitome of cultural music

Musician Olebile Sedumedi popularly known as Maxy is the epitome of cultural music, a brave woman who has scaled many challenges to reach and stay at the top. She has seen it all and after 13 years in the music industry she so deservedly regards herself as one of the true brands to emerge from Botswana.
By Chippa Legodimo Fri 05 Dec 2014, 17:14 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Maxy, the epitome of cultural music








When her career started 14 years ago, Maxy just wanted to do music and did not want to confine herself to any particular genre. She was a free soul who just wanted to do something she enjoyed. Ironically the now very popular musician did not want to be known as a traditional musician. But she insists it was not by default that the track Kalahari(Uwe) became such a big hit and paved her way to stardom.

“I was into Afro-pop and my debut album(Maxy Maximum) was a mixture of genres. It had Afro-pop, Ragga and Borankana. Somehow people instantly fell in love with Uwe which happened to be a traditional Sesarwa song, but there were other popular songs like Gumba Mchochocho, so it was a  beautiful accident for me that people loved the way I did traditional music,” she said.

The outspoken musician has just released her 10th album called Nnela Tumelo, which she believes signals her persistence and domination as a solo act. Although Maxy is best known for her skills as a traditional musician, over the years she has raved between genres with so much ease, a clear sign of her artistic brilliance and versatility. She has reason to galumph about her gospel skills the same way she can about house music or township disco.

But while some have applauded her for her versatility, this Otse born musician has been criticised in some quarters for confusing her followers.

“Music is dynamic. I make music that I know people will enjoy. The good thing is that I trade in different names for different genres not that there is anything wrong with me mixing in one album,” she said.

After her first two albums Maximum and Makorakoretse launched her as a rough diamond it was not long before Maxy’s talent was recognised beyond our borders. Uwee got nominated for Africa KORA awards and though it did not win, new doors opened for Maxy. The awards coincided with the death of Brenda Fassie. While attending the event in Johannesburg, South Africa Maxy was asked to give a speech but she chose to sing Brenda Fassie’s Mama I’m Sorry. Little did she know that it would stun record company executives in attendance.“There was nothing much I could say about Brenda except what I had read in the papers so I decided to sing her song. From then I was swamped by big musicians and producers who felt I had the potential to make it big universally and they were all confusing me,” she said.

The first person to approach her was South African gospel musician Deborah Fraser, who called renowned record producer, Sello ‘Chicco’ Twala. He quickly flew from Durban to meet Maxy.

A Mickey Mouse game followed, which culminated with Twala winning.

“Chicco would tell me that there was no way I could join Fraser’s stable because she would not like the competition I would give her.

However, Fraser countered by saying she had been ripped off by Chicco after completing one of

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Brenda’s albums. It was really confusing,” she said.

After Twala had won the tussle for the fresh talent, Maxy was excited at the prospect of joining one of the biggest producers in South Africa. Another giant joined the fray, Malian musician Salif Keita who wanted to convince the talented vocalist to relocate to Paris. “I had to be moved from my hotel to a guesthouse because both Fraser and Chicco were scrambling for me. I was under the care of Multi Choice so they demanded that if any of those people wanted me they should let me come back to Botswana and collect me from here, but Chicco was very cheeky and he organised for me to secretly make a u-turn at the airport which I did,” Maxy said.

The following day she was taken to Downtown Studios where a “test recording” was done. She was promised a big pay cheque once the real recording was completed. She was not aware that the “test recordings” were final and would be part of Fassie’s posthumous album. Surprisingly, a few weeks later while at home in Otse she heard one of the songs playing on radio. When she called Twala, he claimed ignorance but it later emerged that the, We miss you Manelo, hit maker knew what was going on all along. Damning articles both in Botswana and South Africa followed, and in one article, Chicco referred to Maxy as a “confused psychopath.”

“I do not want to discuss that issue. I buried the hatchet with Chicco in 2011 and we are now on speaking terms. We have also done business together,” Maxy told Arts&Culture.

While she diplomatically avoided discussing the 2004 conflict, Maxy said she had learnt from the experience. She is a strong woman, and was bound to bounce from this difficult time.

However, back home a new challenge arose where piracy was escalating.

In an attempt to address the problem, government introduced measures, which turned out to be detriment to the musicians’ as their earnings dwindled thereafter. The only child at home, Maxy struggled to feed her pensioner mother and later her son. Music is her bread and butter so she had to make it work.

“I have been kicked out into the street by council officials when I tried to sell my music, while people sold pirated CDs in the same side walks. I decided to beat them at their own game and nicely approached them to find out what their customers wanted and used that information in my own marketing strategy. Right now I do not spend too much money on expensive CD covers.

I use a cheaper packaging because I have realised that people are more interested in the content and it is working for me,” she said. Maxy has used her strongest weapon, her voice, to fight both poverty and other negative forces that could have seen her crumbling down. She now looks set to conquer storms ahead of her with a positive attitude.

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