Biography

Steve was born in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa in 1960.  His parents listened consistently to music of the Western classical masters. He also remembers maskandi musicians walking the streets as they played their guitars, and the Soul Brothers and “kwela” playing on the radio. He began composing music at the age of 10.

Steve completed a B Mus degree in performance at the University of Natal in 1981, majoring in saxophone and flute. Refusing military conscription into the SADF he left South Africa and lived in Botswana for 5 years. Here he came into contact with the exile sounds blowing through the horns of Hugh Masekela and Jonas Gwangwa. He helped form “Shakawe” led by Jonas Gwangwa and played in the band for 3 years, where he immersed himself in the mbaqanga music tradition. At this time Steve also listened to saxophonists such as John Coltrane and Winston Mankunku. 

In 1988 after a stint in the U.K. he settled in Zimbabwe where he formed the group Southern Freeway. Two albums were produced Southern Freeway (1989) and Indlela yenkululeko (1992). Steve came into contact here with the more introspective and often rhythmically complex mbira based Shona music, as well as reliving some Nguni based music playing with musicians that had Ndebele cultural roots.

In 1990 he joined the Amandla cultural ensemble of the A.N.C on a 7 week tour of Japan.

With democracy on the horizon in 1993 Steve returned to South Africa. After studying briefly at the University of Natal, he relocated to Johannesburg and directed the Soweto String quartet live performance that toured Europe and Australia/New Zealand.

He conceptualised, directed and performed with the first ever substantive Southern African music collaboration “Mahube” in 1997. Mahube toured Southern Africa and Europe and recorded recorded 2 albums: Music from Southern Africa 1998 (SAMA nomination), Qhubeka 2003 (Kora award)). Steve went on to produce 6 Oliver Mtukudzi albums between 1998 and 2002 including the seminal “Tuku music”.

He has released 7 solo albums since his return to S.A: Down South in Africa – 2000, Son of the Soil – 2004, Lifecycle 2006 (SAMA nomination) Native Art 2007 (SAMA nomination), IAP (U.S.A.) finalist), Ubuntu music 2012 (SAMA nomination), Confluence 2014 and Genesis of a Different World – 2019. Steve has also composed and performed for feature film and TV soundtrack, as well as for modern dance companies Moving into Dance and Tumbuka, as well as conceptualising and directing numerous shows and collaborations, and conducting improvising/music workshops.

In 2010 he composed and performed Rebirth, a first African concerto for soprano saxophone, orchestra with saxophones, African percussion and marimbas. Rebirth premiered in Johannesburg on 1st May 2010 with an 118-piece Miagi youth orchestra.

In April 2014 Steve was musical director for the opening show at HIFA (Harare international festival of the arts).

He conceptualised, directed and performed in a groundbreaking multimedia work called “Colour Me Human” – a new world musical” that premiered at Soweto theatre in May. The production also did a run at the Jo’burg theatre from 12th to 30th November. Colour Me Human was nominated for 5 Naledi theatre awards: Best ensemble, music score, music director, choroeographer, animation/AV.

Steve composed a Jazz suite commemoration June 14 1985 victims of the SADF Gaborone raid. This was performed at the Orbit jazz club on June 14  and featuring poetry by the late poet laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile, and featured guest musician Jonas Gwangwa.

Steve has recently performed in and directed numerous shows, working with artists Oliver Mtukudzi, Vusi Mahlasela, Ringo Madlingozi, Msaki, Ami Faku, Selmor Mtukudzi, Zamajobe, Ammara Brown, Tamy Moyo, Sijava, Bokani Dyer, Sisonke Xonti, Thandi Ntuli, Siya Makuzeni, Hope Masike, Siphokazi, Judith Sephuma, Mbuso Khoza and many other fine musicians.

In 2017 he conceptualised a show called “Mantswe a Marabi” paying tribute to the Marabi musical tradition.

In May 2017 Steve directed a new look Mahube for the Harare international festival of the Arts, as well as at Jo’burg theatre for the Africa week celebrations. Mahube performed on the main National Arts festival in Makhanda to a standing ovation in July 2018.

Steve completed producing a record for Dorothy Masuka “Nginje” (Gallo records) released in late 2018.

In December 2018 Mahube released an album “Zenzele” across all digital platforms. Physical C.D copies have also been released. Mahube performed at the Cape Town international Jazz festival end March, and the Bushfire festival in Swaziland end May 2019.

“Genesis of a different world” is Steve’s latest project. The live performance launch took place at the Jo’burg theatre on the 2nd and 3rd August 2019.

It is available on CD Baby, iTunes and other digital platforms.