Drummer of note

SHARE   |   Monday, 04 April 2016   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Ramolemana on the drums Ramolemana on the drums

The Botswana boy who became the drummer for renowned South African musician Zahara relishes on his achievements. ONTAMETSE SUGAR reports

At just 24 years Kutlwano Ramolemana is already living his dream. He has emerged as a drummer of high class, winning over the sensational South African vocalist Zahara to join her stable. He enjoys playing all instruments, be it a piano or guitar but it is the drum that he is making a living out of. He started playing the drum in 2000 as part of a church band. “That is where I learnt to play even though in the beginning I did not take that seriously,” he said. Many mentors came to his aid and in the process his love for the drum grew.  In 2012 he took a step up by enrolling to study music in Central Johannesburg College. Upon finishing his studies he then developed a sound specialty that attracted most local artists to him. He has played for Punah Gabasiane, Nono Siile, Kearoma Rantao, Scar, Lizibo, Mosako, Eugene Jackson and Tshepo Lesole. “I have worked with almost each and every big artist in the country and one of my highlights was being a drummer for Jam in Christ which led to me playing for an American pastor and artist Juanita Bynum when she was in Botswana,” he said. He was also a drummer when American rapper Eve performed in Botswana.

Turning point
His dream began to take a reality in 2014 when his former lecturer Godfrey Seleso played for the legendary Helen in Botswana. He invited him and told him that Zahara was due to perform in Botswana and needed a drummer. Seleso said he (Kutlwano) was the best person for the task.  Though caught off guard, the then 22-year-old didn’t doubt himself. He took on the challenge. He didn’t have time to rehearse with Zahara’s band and had to watch their performance videos. He then went on stage and thrilled. The feedback that he got from people was overwhelming and Zahara had found the drummer she had long been looking for.

Moving to SA
By the end of 2014 he had relocated to South Africa to establish his career as one of the best drummers there and locally. Even though he is working full time as Zahara’s drummer he still plays for other artists like Helen. Currently they are busy working on Zahara’s album which will be followed by a tour from April that will cover Europe. “This is a very huge opportunity for me. I am still dreaming big but at the time there is nothing better than what I am doing now considering the calibre of an artist that Zahara is,” he said. He said he is good at what he does because he demands more from himself every day. Since playing for Zahara which afforded him a part celebrity status, his star has been shining even brighter. He never thought he would have reached his status at his age - he is loved by many and appreciated for his craft even though he comes from a small country like Botswana. He has been to most countries that many can only dream off.

He remembered a time when people made a mockery out of his career choice wondering how he will be able to make a living out of playing drums. That did not deter him. “The numbers and calibre of people who call me to come and play for them always surprises me all the time and I get to realise that what I am doing might be totally exceptional and very good,” he said. Ramolemana also thinks that what inspires his craft to be unique is because he used to play in church and that made him to always listen to different exciting beats. He said gospel music is his first love and looks up to Joyous Celebrations’ drummer Sabu Sacha. He wants to play different genres. He does not like being compared to Sacha but he appreciates his craft a lot.

The soccer star
If he was not doing what he is doing now Ramolemana would have opted to being a professional footballer because he is good in football. “I believe in talent more than anything, and that is why I chose a career that is talent based. Even though with talent you have to work hard in the beginning it always pays back,” he said.

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Going to Europe
Zahara to Ramolemana is a beautiful soul. They always openly share ideas on how to make the music better. He said the challenges he faces are not bigger than the highs. He doesn’t find time to come to Botswana because of the tight schedule. He is excited about the coming European tour. He couldn’t stop appreciating Zahara for giving him the chance to shine because she embraced him when he had doubts about himself. He thanked all the local artists that he played for before because it is through those that his craft was perfected which led him to where he is now.