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From cool gospel to kwaito groove – Idols SA

30 July 2021
Zwai Bala has been a Drakensberg boy, a kwaito sensation, and a TV show regular – now it’s his time for Idols!
Zwai Bala guest judges Idols SA

Zwai studied at the storied Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, where he honed his singing skills, and matriculated at St Stithians. He then pursued an online Master's Certificate in Orchestration for Film and Television at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Just like last week’s guest judge Ringo Madlingozi, it was the Shell Road to Fame that provided his first proper platform – he entered at the tender age of 11 and reached the semi-finals!

But Bala’s legacy was sealed when he hooked up with school friends Kabelo Mabalane and Tokollo Tshabalala to form kwaito group TKZee – and for a few years, they were the biggest group in Mzansi.

Let’s have a look at and listen to a few of the stone-cold classics they left in their wake!

Then, of course, there was the memorable ‘Shibobo’, which blended footballer Benni McCarthy with the hook from Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’ – to smash-hit effect.

Their ‘Halloween’ album was such a certifiable classic that it received a vinyl reissue in 2017 – it’s now reselling on online record outlets for well over R1,000!

When TKzee dissipated, Bala embarked on a solo career, and continued to work alongside his brothers Loyiso and Phelo as the Bala Brothers.

Zwai is also notable for his TV work, having finished third on Strictly Come Dancing in 2006. He was also a choir master and guest judge on Clash of The Choirs; host of All You Need Is Love; a judge on Popstars for three seasons; and a judge on Pump Up The Volume.

Again, like Ringo, he’s worked with UB40 – specifically lead singer Ali Campbell’s Grace project about the Soweto Gospel Choir, which he produced.

In 2002, he received a SAMA for his single ‘Lifted’, and TKZee received a Lifetime Achievement SAMA in 2019.

Whether it’s worship, dancefloor rapture or mentorship, Zwai is an excellent addition to the Idols SA judging panel!

Season 17 of Idols SA broadcasts on Sundays at 17:30 on Mzansi Magic Channel 161, and at 17:00 from the live shows. Get exclusive updates and a behind the scenes look at all the action right here on our site. Don't forget to join the conversation by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IdolsSA.