In a whirlwind year, Gqom Queen Babes Wodumo remains unshaken.
The 23-year-old singer – real name Bongekile Simelane – credits her strong faith and beau-cum-manager DJ Mampintsha for keeping her grounded.
Time Out spoke to Babes backstage at the Essence Festival Durban after her banging performance lit up the Durban ICC arena.
Babes is sizzling hot, flaunting her sexy midriff.
She opened the concert for American singer Jill Scott, strutting her signature dance moves as she performed hit songs from her debut album Gqom Queen, Vol. 1.
“It’s such an honour and privilege to be part of the festival. There are people who came from all parts of South Africa to attend, so it’s always exciting to perform for my fans,” she says.
She doesn’t seem like her usual bubbly and sassy self. It all falls into place when she reveals that she just buried a close friend earlier in the day.
She describes the death as: “The worst thing that I had to face this year.” Her friend died in a car accident.
“He was more than a friend to me; he was family. He’s even in the Gandaganda music video,” Babes says, pouring her heart out.
“The day he died he was transporting people from our music video shoot and on his way back he got into a car accident,” she says.
“I put the blame on myself. Like, had he not gotten into the car he would still be here. If there is one thing I would tell him it’s that I love him.”
This year has been a wild ride for Babes, after thrusting into the music scene last year with her banger anthem Wololo.
Babes and Mampintsha caused a stir earlier this year after going on a social media rant complaining that she was robbed at the South African Music Awards. The couple later apologised for the outburst.
Her triumphant nomination at the BET Awards was overshadowed after missing the show in Los Angeles, because she was unable to get a travel visa on time. But Babes has sailed through it all level-headed.
This week she was named a nominee in the Best African Act at the 2017 MTV Europe Music Awards taking place in London on November 12. She will go up against South African rapper Nasty C; Nigerian superstars Wizkid and Davido; Angolan kizomba musician C4 Pedro and Kenya’s Nyashinski.
She cites buying her parents a house as her biggest accomplishment this year.
“With everything that I have become people think that I got lucky. But truth be told, I’m very blessed,” she says.
“My secret is that I always make sure I tithe at church just to say thank you to God. I’m reaping the rewards. God is really showing off in my life and I’m grateful.”
“People will always talk and gossip. Even I gossip. It’s not a new thing, but obviously it’s worse because I’m famous.”
Babes explains that it is hard to be a female in the music scene since people always want to sexually objectify her.
She and Mampintsha have positioned themselves as a dynamic music duo. Perhaps, in a few years time our very own Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
“I’m lucky to have someone who cares and looks after me like Mampintsha. I’m here because of him. He has taught me a lot,” she gushes