Based: Johannesburg

Durban-based music mogul Zakhele Madida, stage name Zakes Bantwini, is best known as the man who discovered kwaito sensation L’vovo Derrango. But his remarkable achievements stretch far beyond signing new talent. With multiple albums under his belt, the first live House DVD in South Africa, as well as scooping winner of the Best Male Award at the 10th METRO Music Awards in 2011 and winner of the Most Gifted Video of the Year Artist at the Channel O Awards in 2011, Zakes is a musical extraordinaire.

As a former ballet and stage performer, Zakes fell in love with music from a young age and started his career playing the piano while studying towards his Diploma in Jazz and Popular Music at the Natal Technikon (now Durban University of Technology). He subsequently also completed his degree in Jazz and Popular Music at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal during 2012. Zakes identified the value of being an all-round musician, able to manipulate his skills into different genres, and Jazz provided the ideal foundation.

Zakes formed independent record label Mayonie Productions during his final year of studying towards his Diploma – seen as a brave move in the industry at the time. Adamant to avoid being another musician whose fate lay in the hands of a record company, he decided to form his own business focused on signing new talent and negotiating on their behalf. This business venture led to the discovery of L’vovo.

Zakes’ devoted passion for the industry in addition led him to discover Durban Kwaito Music (DKM), a genre which finds a perfect balance between house beats and kwaito lyrics, providing a cross-over appeal, but staying true to the kwaito feel. The introduction of DKM has opened the industry up for new up-and-coming musicians to make their mark.
Teaming up with top producer and close friend, DJ Black Coffee, Zakes’ most successful album to date, Love, Light and Music is a collaborative effort, following the success of JUJU. The album has exploded Zakes’ career both locally and internationally, presenting opportunities for performances in Africa, Europe and Asia.

While pursuing an active recording schedule, Zakes loves nothing more than to be on stage, clearly evident in the energy and passion he brings to every performance. This stage persona was bought to life during 2012, when Zakes transformed the newly-built Soweto Theatre into an intimate concert experience for Upfront with Zakes Bantwini, as he filmed his debut live DVD on June 16th – shot with over 14 cameras, a 13-piece band, string section, styled VJ’ing and legendary guest artists. Released at the end of 2012, the DVD is more than just a live performance; it includes personal narration from Zakes, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage leading up to the concert and the first live performance of his latest single, Karolina.
Dubbed as the new King of Dance music, Zakes fondly describes his sound as “sophisticated dance music – a Cosmopolitan perspective that talks about different lifestyles”.