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Lebo Mathosa
Born 1977
Origin South Africa
Died 23 October 2006
Genres Kwaito, Hip hop
Years active 1994–1999 (group)
1999–2006 (solo)
Labels EMI Africa

Lebo Mathosa (1977 - 23 October 2006) was a popular South African kwaito singer.

Mathosa started her career with the popular South African band Boom Shaka in 1994 at the age of 15, after she caught the eye of music producer Don Laka at a club in Johannesburg. She was one of the few successful female kwaito artists in an industry dominated by males. [1]

She turned solo in 1999. Her debut solo album Dream went gold within 4 weeks of its launch in 2000. At the 2001 South African Music Awards, Mathosa won Best Dance Album for Dream, Best Dance Single for her debut single Intro from the same album, and Best Female Vocalist. Her next album, Drama Queen released in 2004, again earned the SA Music Award for Best Dance Album.[2]

She topped the South African pop charts in 2004, and in 2006 she was nominated for a British MOBO award (Best African Act category) [3]. She performed all over the world, from Southern Africa to Malaysia to Trafalgar Square in London, one of her most significant performances being at Nelson Mandela's 85th birthday party. She also toured the US with the show The Vagina Monologues. Her appearance in a show with such a positive feminist message is indicative of the attitude held by Mathosa, who, according to author Zine Magube, has become “a role model for many young South African women, [appearing] at first glance to simply be reinforcing stereotypes about the wanton nature of Black female sexuality. Some critics have argued however that Boom Shaka’s female members have used ‘the skimpy clothes, the gyrating hips, and simulated sex onstage to promote a variety of apposite concerns.’”[4] This strong pro-feminist attitude combined with her often shocking onstage sexuality earned her the nickname “The New Madonna of the Townships”.[5]

She was well known for her dyed blond hair, her live shows and outrageous stage outfits, and was openly bisexual.[6] She was frequently compared to the South African singer Brenda Fassie, who died in 2004. She won the Style Best Dressed Woman of the Year Award in 2001, and was nominated by FHM magazine as one of Africa's sexiest women.[7]

Mathosa died in a car crash, aged 29, after her driver lost control of her vehicle in Johannesburg.[8]


History of Music

Lebo Mathosa was born in Dayveton, a small town just outside of Johannesburg to parents Nomvula Magdeline and Madimetsha Gerriet Mathosa. The family later moved to Johannesburg where Lebo attended St. Mary's High School. Lebo began by singing at seven years old in her local church choir. When her family moved to Johannesburg, she discovered bubblegum music, which is a kind of disco-infused pop that was popularized by people like Brenda Fassie, who Mathosa considered an idol, and was later likened to a prodigy of. [9] At the age of fourteen, Mathosa was discovered by a Johannesburg DJ, and soon after, she joined the group Boom Shaka. Boom Shaka became an instant success and one of the most prominent Kwaito groups in South Africa. Some have argued that the success was in part due to Mathosa's sex appeal, in attire and dance style. Boom Shaka's first album, About Time, was an instant hit, but they ran into controversy with their last album when they infused and remixed a version of the South African national anthem, "Nkosi Sikelela". After leaving Boom Shaka, Mathosa started her own solo career and was very successful. She was also a pioneer in the field of copyrights for South African artists. in a move unheard of for the industry and especially for a female, Mathosa negotiated and secured full publishing rights and ownership for her work.[10] At the time of her death at age twenty-nine in a car accident, Mathosa had plans to start her own label.


  • 2000: Dream
  • 2004: Drama Queen
  • 2006: Lioness


  1. ^ Mhlambi, Thokozani. "'Kwaitofabulous': The study of a South African urban genre." Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa, vol 1 (2004): 116-27.
  2. ^ Lebo Mathosa biography, accessed 23 October
  3. ^ IPP Media: Jose Chameleon nominated for UK music awards
  4. ^ Mabugane, Zine. "Globalization and Gangster Rap: Hip Hop in the Post-Apartheid City". In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 208-29. London; Ann Arbor, MI: Pluto Press
  5. ^ [1]Obituary: Lebo Mathosa
  6. ^ Tonight, accessed 24 October 2006
  7. ^ Talent Finders, accessed 24 October 2006
  8. ^ BBC report of Mathosa's death, accessed 23 October 2006
  9. ^ Lebo Mathosa - South African Singing Sensation
  10. ^ LEBO MATHOSA | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at

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