Emerging a cappella group 80 Vocals aims to bring a modernised version of the genre to the forefront of the music industry.
A cappella has been around for a long time thanks to artists like African Vocals, the late Ovakwaita VoKokongo and Vmsix, who have been adding African and Namibian culture and traditions to the genre.
Now, 80 Vocals are aiming to take the genre to new heights while modernising it enough to appeal to the younger generation.
Lead vocalist Bwila and backup singers Camarada, Dr40, Paulus Kaimbi, Ondjedi Yamalyata and Jacob James make up the group’s current line-up of six members – up from its original four.
All members are from the Ohangwena region and they believe there’s no harm in doing things differently.
They are characterised by pop arrangements, featuring beatboxing, vocal harmonies, percussion, basslines and riffs.
80 Vocals was founded in the north in 2017, but has now moved to the capital, where they perform at various events.
“It all started with weddings, where our group provided the best entertainment. People started liking our performances and started booking and calling us for more,” Bwila says.
He says the group creates cover versions of pop songs and songs praising leaders and comrades in the north.
80 Vocals, however, mostly produces original material, Bwila says, such as ‘Oshili Tuu Mbela’, ‘Yesu’, and ‘Uusiko’.
He says although the band has been making progress for the past two years, they have encountered various challenges.
Nothing will discourage them from keeping up their efforts to make a name for themselves and perform at bigger events across Namibia, he says.
“When we started singing, many people who knew our background started calling us names, because they didn’t understand what we were trying to do.
“It wasn’t easy to find sponsors, and it wasn’t easy to stand in the studio for the first time. It has been a long and difficult journey to getting to where we are today,” Bwila says.
The group’s first creative project is a 17-track album, titled ‘Ondjuulufi’, which was released in 2020, followed by ‘Ino Tota Uhena Oupenda’ and ‘Usko’ in 2022.
The albums, sponsored by Namibian lawyers Kadhila Amoomo, Sisa Namandje and Nambili Mata, are available on iTunes and YouTube.
The group’s fourth project, ‘Tjula Tjula’, was released at the end of the last year.
The group believes Eeshoke Chula Chula is the best football team in the north, and therefore named their album after the club.
“When they said we are all from the great Ohangwena region, we really felt proud. We wrote it in Oshiwambo, but instead of writing ‘Chula Chula’, we wrote ‘Tjula Tjula’, much like it would be written in Oshikwanyama,” Bwila says.
The album comprises 17 tracks, including several mordenised a cappella songs.
‘Omwene Tati’ is about God, Bwila says.
“It says that whether we ar celebrating or struggling in life, it’s Father God who leads us,” he says.
‘Meedolongo Vaidililwa’, another song on the album to check out, delves deeper into the subject of human rights and discusses life behind bars, he says.
With this song, the singers are urging local lawyers to keep defending people’s rights.
The forthcoming election is discussed in the song ‘Ehoololo’.
“Prior to casting our votes, we should consider who should lead us, what reforms our nation needs and what we need in our leadership. We are asking every Namibian to cast a vote,” Bwila says.
He says the group bellieves 2024 should be the year of expectations and observable results.
80 Vocals will be playing at a number of events this year, including weddings.
Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –