MAM’BUSI MHLONGO X TVNDO T-SHIRT COLLECTION:
A Dedication to Mam’ Busi
Good day to those reading this tribute. My name is Nico Tando Trunz and I am the son of Robert Trunz and Libera Benedetti. My father Robert founded M.E.L.T. 2000- a record label was dedicated to Jazz, World music and Electronica. A large part of the catalogue includes South African musicians. M.E.L.T. 2000 worked with artists such as Airto Moreira, Busi Mhlongo, Juno Reactor, Mabi Thobejane, Madala Kunene and Moses Taiwa Molelekwa to name a few. Looking back, personally there is one artist who comes strongly to mind, a musician who exuded power on stage a bold vocalist both dominant and at times subtle, yet always elegant and finally a musician who went on to inspire generations of new South African stars. Her name is Mam’Busi Mhlongo!
Busi’s iconic ‘Urbanzulu’ album was mixed at Dad Robert’s studio at Brownhill farm in West Sussex,UK. 1995-2000 was a busy period at the farm bursting with vibrancy and creativity. After Dad Robert had retired from his role as President of Bowers & Wilkins, he put his full focus into the production and recording of music for M.E.L.T. 2000, which stands for Musical Energy & Loud Truth.
Although I was present amongst the abundance of musicians, I was too young to vividly remember this significant era. A big part of who I am today, is the gift which the musicians fondly gave me, my middle name: ‘Tando’ meaning ‘Love and Joy’ in Xhosa.
"To me, Busi is Aunt’Busi"
I was 2 years old when she mostly took care of me. I vividly remember visiting her in Durban, South Africa, mostly between 2002-2008, around the time I moved with Dad Robert from the UK to South Africa.
She was the epitome of groove, living every day in high spirit and as bold as her beautiful voice. She had a motherly, nurturing energy and was simply a joy to be around. I recall Mom Libera reminiscing on her friendship with Aunt Busi. As the story goes Mom and Aunt Busi had a lot fun selecting clothes and accessories; Mom inadvertently assumed the role of dressing Aunt Busi for the photoshoot of the ‘Urbanzulu’ album. The picture of the album cover.
Together with Dad they travelled around the world and had a fair share of funny stories. Aunt Busi, Madala, Mabi, Pops and Moses were the closest musicians to us and we regarded them as our extended family. There is a fond memory I share with Aunt Busi, which I plan to illustrate through this collaboration of artistic t-shirts. When I was a child, I used to run up and down asking Aunt Busi to sing, “Up and Down like a Yo-Yo!”. I share a link in the image below, which visually relives this sweet moment. (Busi & Nico at Brownhill farm)
Taking into consideration Mam’Busi Mhlongo the artist, as in the case of great artists, their influence on their art isn’t recognized to its fullest. Her influence on musicians in South Africa is there with a few of the most renowned South African artists. These artists include Black Coffee, Thandiswa Mazwai, Black Motion, Busiswa, Culoe de Song, Msaki and many more. Two famous remixes of her songs are “Webaba” by Culoe de Song and “Izizwe” by Black Coffee from the orginal song “We Baba Omncane” and “Zithin’izizwe” released on the “UrbanZulu” album.
My design for the front of the Limited-Edition t-shirts, is a photo from the prolific ‘Urbanzulu’ album photoshoot set by Pete Williams, accompanied by an iteration of my recent ‘Le Donne Vivace” embroidery piece. On the sleeves, I have added a Zulu shield in tribute of Aunt Busi’s home province, Kwa-Zulu Natal. As an artist and having spent time with Busi, it is a true honor to be able to reflect the times by combining my artwork with these empowering photos of Mam’Busi.
Many thanks go out to: My parents Robert and Libera for their guidance.TVNDO team Creative Directors: Robert Trunz and Anna Ilishkina. Busi’s daughter Mpumi for her support. Most of all I thank Mam’Busi for the inspiration she has given us and I hope we are making her proud.