One-man Shows: Are we there yet?

The closest to that have been recent previous events like the famous Tlatsa Lebala and Taolo Moshaga’s Lala Vuka, as well as Go Sha Mabaphi in Molepolole years ago


It is every musician’s dream to headline a music festival, let alone have a one-man show similar to Kanye West and Cassper Nyovest’s historical one-man shows which have over the years made the two international household names.

Upon the announcement of Makhadzi staging a one-woman show in Botswana and legendary rhumba maestro Franco doing the same in April, it gave more Batswana artists an urge to stage similar events and eventually Vee Mampeezy announced that he too would stage one in September.

There has also been a desire expressed for pop star ATI to stage a similar event. While this is a step in the right direction for the local music industry, the big question is how much capacity Batswana artists have to fill up a venue in a one-man show event? There has always been a complaint, especially from promoters that it is difficult to bring in the numbers.

The closest to that have been recent previous events like the famous Tlatsa Lebala and Taolo Moshaga’s Lala Vuka, as well as Go Sha Mabaphi in Molepolole years ago. But these were not one-man shows events as they were really festivals with a local lineup that managed to fill up the venues. A one-man show is an event headlined by one artist who is the main attraction with the backup of other artists who are more like curtain raisers.

“History tells us that it is possible, we can have a local artist host a one man show and still fill up a stadium,” said veteran DJ Boogie Sid in an interview. “If we look back, Tlatsa Lebala had people filled up the National Stadium despite it not being a one-man show but an event to promote local artists.”

“Without pointing at a specific artist, I wouldn’t say locals do stage high-quality performances as compared to international acts. Artists need to have a solid music catalogue. ATI, for instance, does have a solid catalogue that can allow him to stage a one-man show.”

DJ Sid added that artists should always remember to differentiate between a one-man show and a show staged in an ordinary festival. He believes there is strong need for a creative ensemble consisting of dancers, a band, a choir in world-class production that should leave the audience amazed.

The veteran disc jockey went to the extent of challenging Makhadzi, saying that she should stage something different from what she has been doing in her one-woman shows across Botswana.

This means that Franco and Vee Mampeezy have to bring their A game to the stage in their events. Both have a massive stage presence, impressive music catalogues and huge fan bases. Another factor to determine if an artist has the capacity to mount a one-man show is to look at the artist’s record sales, even though it has been difficult to record such data locally. Vee Mampeezy has shown an impressive number of streams on Youtube with videos that have 10 million views whereas Franco’s videos, on the other hand, have between 200 000 and 800 000 views.

Says another veteran music promoter, Seabelo Modibe: “Venues have previously filled up at festivals headlined by local artists. It is a matter of them having an organised team to ensure that the event is well-marketed and the production is up to standard.

“A strong team comprises a marketing department, security and various department managers. South African artist Sjava managed to host a one-man show in Durban with just one album to his name. The point is that a one-man show does not mean that the artist will not have the support of other artists in the show.”

Franco’s team has already started preparations for his April event at the National Stadium. The show was initially planned for 2020 but was postponed due to the onset of the COVID- 19 pandemic that resulted in gatherings being cancelled.