Legendary Lister Boleseng

SHARE   |   Thursday, 21 July 2016   |   By Ontametse Sugar
Lister Boleseng Lister Boleseng

He is one of the local music legends who has undeniable talent, and his saxophone is his best friend that whenever he performs he easily gets immersed in. He has recently released a new album after 10 years, and the album shows so much growth in terms of quality and sound, and even the songs that he has created. He traced his steps to when he was a little boy, and he said that he developed love for music when he was just about six years in 1970. By then he was staying with his grandmother who loved country music so much and growing up with her, he ended up falling in love with the music where he used to sing to any song that came on the radio.

In school, Boleseng started playing many instruments and ended up being part of the school band. When he was in Swaneng Hill School in Serowe, he fell in love with the BDF band after watching their live performances. He was also mesmerised by performances from visiting South African bands, who frequently visited his school. “There was also Mahotela Queens, and when they came there was Wesley Nkosi who played the saxophone, and he just made me fall more in love with the instrument,’ he said. There came a time when he then moved to the south of the country, and joining Botswana Defence Force was a no brainer since it was something that he had always loved and aspired to do because of the band. This happened in 1981 and his dream of playing a saxophone was realised after the then director of music in the army, just by looking at his lips said he saw a saxophone player. “They gave it to me not even knowing that I loved it, and that is how it just all went down,” he said.

Boleseng, then a soldier, later had an opportunity to go abroad to study playing the saxophone and singing. In the process, he also learnt a lot about music and how to read music comprehensively. Meanwhile, he continued as a member of the BDF band and played an imperative role as the leader when it came to annual activities that they took part in. Musicians like Clement Jackson saw immense talent in him, and made sure that he becomes part of a group called Badiri, which was made up of working musicians from Botswana and some South African refugees. He later became a member of a few bands and backed many artists. He recorded three albums backing Ndingo Johwa, and internationally he backed the likes of Sibongile Khumalo who needed a saxophone player for a show in Gaborone. “The people that she called like Shima Monageng recommended that she calls me, and this was when it was just two days to the show and I had to meet them on the last day when they were doing sound check. I played for her and she cried. She had to stop and tell people that it is like they had me in their rehearsals but that was not the case," he said.

Boleseng has worked with many other people like Hugh Masekela, and in 2006 through the support from people around him he was inspired to write his songs and that gave birth to the first album Life’s Journey. The likes of John Selolwane inspired him a lot and he made sure he takes him to the right places to do music and that was it. That was one album that was adored by many Batswana as it managed to scoop three awards which were song of the year, best packaged album and music video of the year. He was contending against Shumba Ratshega’s song Makhirikhiri which was a hit then and he never thought he could win best song. “Even up to date since then there is no afro jazz song that has won best song of the year and I am proud of that,” he said. He got in the studio last year June to cook up his new album Moratiso. He clarified that the title is not saying anything bad, but just about love. He said that even though the album was just released, he is happy about the feedback so far because of the progress it is making.

The album will be officially launched on the 29th July at Maitisong with Gape Motswaledi and Kago Regoeng as the supporting acts with their classical and oldies music. He will be performing for the first time with his child Refilwe Boleseng. He admitted that in each and every show he knows that he has to play ‘O thokana le nna’ because Batswana still adore it even up to date and that is something that he has learnt to embrace even though he also wants them to love other songs the same way. At the moment he is rehearsing hard since he is part of the ensemble that will perform at the Presidential competitions over the holidays. The songs that make up the new album are Ke swa Hela, Malaika wich is adopted and featuring Samantha Mogwe, Running Back, Dumelang, Nkinele Matsogo, Sebouledi, A re bine and Mma Mmati. Shima Monageng referred to the album as one of those that will make someone get so close to the one that they are in love with, and to eventually marry if they are not.