Bass Guitarist, Composer & Arranger (South Africa)
Bheka Mthethwa, born 1986 in Empangeni, Northern KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, began his musical journey at a very young age in the village of KwaMthethwa where he grew up. Growing up in a musical and Christian family, a young boy always surrounded by singing voices and music being a daily meal. Bheka drew a lot of inspiration from that background. The music passion grew from strength to strength as he started crafting his artificial four-string guitar learning from an old man next door. He learned to play 3 chords from that guitar, tuned up in Maskandi style. While other young boys in the village went to play hide ‘n sick, Bheka would play his guitar and composing songs on his level at that time. Few years later after his primary school level, he left the village to live in Esikhawini Township by his aunt. He then began to learn and play keyboards at church being taught by his elder brother. Bheka’s musical thinking started to take shape and big dreams ruled his mind since then.
By age 15 he had developed a great interest in Bass Guitar and started teaching himself by listening to Gospel music and R&B recordings. He joined a teenage band which was formed by Ketsa Dlamini in Esikhawini where Bheka played bass guitar and where Siyanqoba Mthethwa (Joyous Celebration musical director) was a pianist. There were two matured bassists in the township to which Bheka was looking up; Thabang Moshoeshoe and Sabelo Masondo (former Joyous Celebration bassist). Very soon Bheka’s involvement in church music together with his friends grew in leaps and bounds.
A few years later after his matric, Bheka moved to the city of Durban to study Information Technology as his first choice which was pursuing Music as a career wasn’t well received at home. Bheka always carried his bass guitar wherever he went and made sure that he practiced after his IT lectures. Bheka mingled with friends who were studying Music fulltime and captured some technical aspects of Music and that enriched his vocab as he continued to seek information. Very soon Bheka became the talk of the city and became one of the best and looked up to bassists in town as he started having some gigs. Bheka’s word was spread widely and everyone in the city wanted to work with him.
Mthethwa met up with the artists like Nqubeko Mbatha who further spread the word and highly recommended him to other prominent artists. Joyous Celebration principals got to know Bheka from then and the relationship was created. In no time Bheka was part of Joyous Celebration.
In pursuit for deeper knowledge and experience, Mthethwa has attended the annual Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival – Grahamstown, South Africa’s highly recognized project in developing young Jazz musicians. Mthethwa also worked and performed with the University of KwaZulu Natal Students’ Band at the SAJE (South African Jazz Education) Conference.
Bheka has now become a nationally in-demand and highly influential session Bass Guitarist, as well as a successful Composer & Arranger.
The number of Artists & Projects Bheka Mthethwa has been involved with is too numerous to list. Some of these include, Sibongile Khumalo, Joyous Celebration, Khaya Mthethwa, Ernie Smith, Judith Sephuma, Jabu Hlongwane, Mthunzi Namba, Ntokozo Mbambo, Nqubeko Mbatha, Siphokazi, Brenda Mntambo, Swazi Dlamini,Tshepo Mngoma, Nhlanhla Nciza (of Mafikizolo), Lucas Senyatso, Lebo Elle Tisane, and many more.
Other recent national projects that have used Bheka’s services as Bass Guitarist are: Metro FM Awards (2011); theANC 100 Years Celebration Centenary Event (2012); Sports Awards (2012)& the SABC National Television Gospel Music Talent Search – “I want to sing Gospel” and Gospel Classics.
Some of the recordings that Bheka’s features in include: