Meet Sebaga Rabantheng: Blowing her own horn to glory
It is often said dynamite comes in small packages and Sebaga Rabantheng is a true attestation of the above viewpoint. Not only is she the daughter to the equally talented media personality, One Rabantheng but Sebaga is truly carving her own golden niche in the dog-eat-dog music industry as an emerging yet most-sought after female saxophonist in the country.
A saxophone is a substantial trumpet with a serene melody, played mostly in the jazz genre and veterans such as Ornette Coleman, Lester Young, Grover Washington Jr, Hugh Masekela and Lister Boleseng are among the many seasoned and great saxophonists to ever emerge. Surely this will give you the tantrum quantity of the significance she has become to most local artists who nowadays prefer to perform their music live.
However, Sebaga’s rise to stardom should not come as a surprise especially when one takes a closer look into her background and upbringing. She admits that she inherited all her musical genes from her grandmother and father who were big names musically back in the days. “I’m just a young lady aged 19 years from Tonota who just wants to become a better saxophonist. I am honored to have a mother who fully supports my craft. She is also my manager. She’s been in this industry for a very long time and I trust her to make best decisions for me too. I have trusted her with my life since birth,” she said amid giggles.
“My late father, Luyiso File otherwise known as DJ Slender was a bonafide music head too. He was South African who had worked with the likes of Thebe and DJ Ganyani during his hey time. I’m told he was one of the DJs that had brought the mid-tempo style to the hearts of South Africans at parties and clubs alike back in the 90s. He was also part of the production team behind Dantai’s hit ‘Pyjama Jam’ -a Kwaito hit circa 1999. He was also instrumental in the music production with Terry Pinana for eTV’s Backstage soapie.”
Sebaga added that even though she lived with her grandmother in Francistown who raised her, she’d also stay with her mother at certain intervals of her early childhood. “My grandmother took me with her to Francistown to start pre-school. Then I lived with my mother again later during primary schooling. I went back to my granny following my mother’s divorce until secondary school where I lived with both my mother and aunt. So most of my childhood was with grandmother. But I always had three mothers effectively.
I did my Form 1 at Tlokweng JSS then later was transferred to Nanogang where I did my Form 2 and 3 respectively. I went to do my high school at Gaborone Secondary School in 2014. Currently, I’m attending the newly established music school called Kingdom Arts Academy to learn the saxophone including music theory professionally.” The pint-sized Sebaga shared that her first love has always been music thanks to her darling grandmother, who introduced her to jazz music at a tender age.
“Well, I’ve always been a musical child growing up and my grandmother used to listen to a lot of Bhudaza and Hugh Masekela, so I grew up wanting to play that instrument that I always heard on her tapes. So when I finished my Form 5 at GSS, I knew that was a chance for me to make it happen and in late 2014 I started learning how to play the saxophone.” Sebaga says she has already conquered a few shows in the neighbouring South Africa and locally she continues to add the much needed savor to the male dominated genre.
Often times, Sebaga is required to throw a freestyle and impromptu saxophone rendition as a confidence booster for her fans, which she admits usually gets scary but wears off immediately after one long blow. Sebaga said 2017 was truly the beginning of her career courtesy of being featured at some of the country’s biggest shows.
“For me, the 2017 GIMC jazz show and the Hamptons jazz festival in 2016 alongside Amantle Brown were a total banger. Also got the chance to feature at the annual Tonota Remmogo festival. OMG, how can I forget the Presidential Awards ceremony at GICC in 2017 where most people accused me of crying on stage even though I didn’t? I was overwhelmed and those were tears of joy,” she said.
She added that discussions are already at an advanced stage to be considered for this year’s Hamptons jazz festival, and she’s excited to be offered the opportunity to share the stage with the likes of Billy Ocean and Salif Keita among others. The 19-year-old Sebaga believes the world is her oyster and looks forward to releasing an album of her won in the not too distant future. Quizzed about the flavor of her envisioned album, the young lass said it could be Jazz, R&B or Soul. Watch the space.