Freddie Gwala Amadamara: The Legendary Musician Who Defined a Genre
Freddie Gwala was a South African musician who rose to fame in the 1980s with his band Platform One. He was known for his distinctive style of music, which he called Amadamara, a fusion of disco, funk, and traditional Zulu sounds. He was also a prolific songwriter, producer, and businessman, who owned several recording studios and labels.
In this article, we will explore the life and legacy of Freddie Gwala Amadamara, one of the most influential artists in South African music history.
Early Life and Career
Freddie Gwala was born in 1954 in KwaZulu-Natal, a province in South Africa. He grew up in a poor family and started singing at a young age. He joined a local choir and learned to play the guitar and drums. He moved to Johannesburg in the late 1970s, where he worked as a taxi driver and a security guard. He also joined several bands, such as The Movers and The Cannibals, as a vocalist and drummer.
In 1983, he formed his own band, Platform One, with guitarist Themba Ndaba and keyboardist Mandla Zikalala. The band quickly gained popularity with their catchy songs and energetic performances. They released their debut album, The Best of Platform One, in 1985, which featured the hit song “Amadamara”. The song introduced Gwala’s signature genre, which he named after the Zulu word for “hard workers”. Amadamara was a blend of disco, funk, and traditional Zulu rhythms and melodies. It appealed to both urban and rural audiences, who related to Gwala’s lyrics about social issues, love, and pride.
Success and Controversy
Platform One became one of the most successful bands in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. They released several albums, such as Makarapa, Gumba Fire, Thina Sizwe, and Malume. They also toured extensively across the country and abroad. They won several awards, such as the SABC Black Music Award for Best Disco Group in 1987 and the OKTV Award for Best African Pop Group in 1990.
However, Gwala’s fame also brought him controversy. He was accused of being involved in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking and murder. He was arrested several times and spent time in jail. He also faced criticism from some political activists, who claimed that his music was apolitical and distracting from the struggle against apartheid. Gwala denied these allegations and maintained that his music was a form of expression and empowerment for his people.
Late Career and Death
In the late 1990s, Gwala left Platform One and pursued a solo career. He released albums such as Amagugu, Umkhonto, Ushunii Wezintombi, and Icala Lami. He also collaborated with other artists, such as Brenda Fassie, Mzwakhe Mbuli, Chicco Twala, and Steve Kekana. He continued to perform until his health deteriorated due to diabetes and kidney failure.
Gwala died on September 6th, 2021 at the age of 67. He was buried in his hometown of Nquthu. He was mourned by his fans, friends, family, and fellow musicians. He was remembered as a legend who defined a genre and inspired generations of artists.
Freddie Gwala Amadamara was a musical icon who left a lasting mark on South African culture. His music was a unique blend of disco, funk, and traditional Zulu sounds that resonated with millions of people. His songs were catchy, uplifting, and meaningful. His life was full of challenges, controversies, and achievements. He was a singer, songwriter, producer, businessman, and leader. He was Freddie Gwala Amadamara.