INTERVIEW WITH PASTOR BHEKI KHAWULA

Radical Hip Hop Gospel Music? Yes, you read correctly. Pastor Bheki is a dynamic Durban pastor making waves in the South African gospel music scene. I caught up with Pastor Bheki for a candid interview following the release of his debut music video, Ngiyabonga Nkosi (Thank You, my Lord), produced by iKind Media.

1. What and who inspired you to be a pastor?

“No one inspired me to be a pastor. In fact, in my list of dreams, pasturing a church was not part of that list. All I wanted was to become a marketing and sales practitioner not knowing that God had a different plan for my life. In 1999 I received a compelling call through the Spirit of God to attend bible college.  That’s where everything began.”

2. What parish/church do you preach at?

“We have just planted a vibrant church with a 21st century approach, and this is where I preach most of the time on Sundays.  However, my preaching ministry is increasingly finding its toll in such places as:

Secondary Schools’ gatherings i.e. morning assemblies and Students’ Christian Organisations.

Tertiary institutions like MUT (Mangosuthu University of Technology)

Radio stations (IGagasi 99.5FM, Highway Radio, UKhozi FM and IMbokodo FM)”

3. Which musician would you say inspires you most?

“Over time, I have listened to different musical artists who have inspired and influenced me at various levels. It’s hard to single out just one. Having said that, I always enjoy Pastor Benjamin Dube’s music.”

4. Growing up, did you sing in the church choir?

“I’ll say, most of my music background stems from the church; I’ve been involved a lot with the church choir, the worship leading team and also have been a Praise & Worship leader for some time. I still do and enjoy it; besides my church background, I also had formal music tuition with Ukusa Music Training Programme at UKZN’s Howard College. I had training as a vocalist and drummer.”

5. What inspired you to enter Hip Hop music?

“As a youngster, I’ve always been radical in my approach. I always wanted to see change.  When I got saved in 1993, as a teenager, together with my other friends we listened to Kirk Franklin’s radical music.  RADICAL was common ground.  I loved Kirk’s approach to The Gospel, so much that in 1995 I wrote a Hip Hop song and lead it in church.”

6. It is believed that every new generation on contemporary music inevitably suffers some form of backslash from the traditional audiences.  Would you say you have experienced the same?

“Yes, it’s a fact.  Let’s bring in a little of history.  When Martin Luther wrote new songs, in a form of hymns, it was contemporary for his generation, and for that reason he was ostracized and considered a rebel, but our modern generation considers Martin Luther’s style traditional, old and out of date.”

“You can’t put new wine in old wineskins, because they will break.”, Jesus advised.

I’m reminded of an accusation where a guest preacher publicly rebuked me for “bringing world music into the church”. I was offended at first, but have learned to accept that I’m pouring new wine, and most definitely, old wineskin can’t stand it.  Now I know that the audience that loves and accepts my music is my target audience, and those who do not find it appealing are not my target audience.  My ideal goal is to go beyond the four corners of church traditions and reach the modern, radical, unreachable that you cannot touch through church traditions while not compromising the message of The Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

7. What challenges do you find yourself facing being both pastor and musician?

“Consolidating the two roles was the main challenge.  The pastor dresses like The Pastor! The State President! A Man of Stature!  A hip-hop musician is a completely different “species”!  I, myself, took time to fuse the two roles.  This was, perhaps, because I hadn’t seen anyone do it. At the same time I found pleasure and fulfillment in administering the two roles. They’re both fulltime careers and BOTH demand my full, undivided attention.  The advantage is their inter-dependability.  Preparing for my sermon usually gives birth to a new song and the other way round.”

8. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far in your career/music industry?

“Believing in oneself and trusting in The Lord, your God. Keep knocking.  Don’t wait for someone to come to you, instead, go out there and present your best.  Tenacity.  Since good things don’t come easily, do not give up easily.  Remain resilient and keep going. Most of all, people do not buy your music simply because they want to make you rich, but they buy it because your music addresses their needs.  If a good skill and exceptional talent are presented, then money will know where to go.”

9. When will your single/album released?

“Considering the work accomplished, I hope to launch the project around August 2011.”

10. Where can listeners hear your music?

“You can catch the “Ngiyabonga Nkosi” music video on Top Gospel (Top TV) and One Gospel (DSTV) and we intend to give it to more channels such as Channel O, Music Lounge and Gospel Gold as well as various radio stations.  If you’d like to view in right away, just search for Pastor Bheki on Vimeo, YouTube, Facebook or on iKind Media’s website. And yes, for sure, in our Church too, hahaha!”

11. Where is your church based?

“We are right at the main entrance of the second biggest “township” in South Africa, called Umlazi. We use the old amphitheatre at 50 Mangosuthu Highway next to Umlazi Mega City Mall. The biggest prominent feature is Mega City Mall. If driving, the mall is situated about two minutes away from the old Durban International Airport, and the service starts at 9h00 and finishes at 11h00.”

12. Did you enjoy making your music video with iKind Media?

“This is my media family.  iKind Media personnel are professionals who believe in good quality and excellence. Pricing is reasonable and competitive, and technology is cutting edge. I would recommend iKind Media to anyone who desires a professional music video.”

13. What else do you have in store for your fans?

“I have songs enough for two albums.  For the next year or so, we’ll let the first album roll.  We’re contemplating a Pastor Bheki City 2 City Tour.  The tour is intended to be engaging to my audience and to give hope.”

14. What are your plans from here?

“I’m focused on completing the album and starting to work on a new one.  The second album will be a level higher.  The album I’m currently working on is certainly attracting more people with relevant skill-sets as needed by my musical career.  It is for this reason that I believe the second project will even be better.”

15. Do you have a website or a social media profile? If yes, where do we find you?

Please find Pastor Bheki’s Facebook artist page or request friendship on my profile (Facebook).  You may also follow me on Twitter.  iKind Media is currently working on my professional website.

Pastor Bheki – Ngiyabonga Nkosi

Credits

Director

Matt Nefdt

Grip

Lance Lutge

Director of Photography

Devin Carter

Catering and Make-Up Direction

Levonne Nefdt – Blue Hen Media

Producer

Megan Steyn

Make-Up

Face To Face – Beauty and Make-Up

Executive Producer

Michael Nefdt

Behind The Scenes Photography

Michael Nefdt and Levonne Nefdt

Editors

Matt Nefdt and Devin Carter