Antonette Mabhena’s debut single Bayede an embodiment of grit

Soulful gospel musician Antonette Mabhena has released her debut single Bayede, a song of thanksgiving. 

By Wenyasha Chingono

Having spent close to a decade working as a backing vocalist for several musical outfits, including dynamic choir Zimpraise and Janet Manyowa among others, Mabhena has finally learnt to spread her wings, with a sizzling single. 

Not many backing vocalists morph into fully fledged artists in Zimbabwe, with many choosing to remain in the background serenading listeners with their enchanting vocals. 

But for Mabhena, budding into a solo artist came naturally. It, however, did not come without its challenges, she says. 

Like everyone, stepping into the unknown was stalled by fear but Mabhena inspired by practise and patience, chose to create her own piece of history.

Antonette Mabhena

“It took me a long time to get to a point where I realised that I had something to give. I always felt that I was not confident in my vocals, I knew I was a good backing vocalist, but it never dawned on me that I could be a great artist myself,” she said.

“It has been a crazy experience working with all these artists, but it has helped me grow my sound. I know and understand my range better, because I have working as a backing vocalist for a very long time,” she said in an interview from her base in the UK. 

On Bayede, Mabhena, a seasoned soulful singer with great vocal texture proves that her vocal abilities, which like fine wine have matured over the years. 

Bayede, a mixture of Shona and Ndebele lyrics, written by fellow gospel musician Joel Chiweda is a smooth song of adoration that can leave worshipers with hands raised in praise to God. 

The soft rock song is easy on the ear, with the instrumentalists blending beautifully with the vocalists. 

Mabhena’s band, which is composed of South Africa’s top instrumentalists like keyboardist, Xoli Thabethe who also doubles as the producer, drummer Peter Djamba, lead guitarist, Divine Mitchell and Lebo Morolo on auxiliary keyboards gives the production an international appeal. 

She also worked with the cream of the South African backing vocals who include Jonny Vilakazi who has had a stint with Dr Tumi, Silindile Zikhali and Busi Sibiya. 

Mabhena told Earground that Bayede was inspired by gratefulness. 

She said despite the rough environment, characterised with Covid-19 and desperation, the song is expected to inspire hope to listeners. 

Antonette Mabhena

“Bayede means a lot to me because everyone was going through a lot , especially in the current situation we are in but even in such times God opened doors that I never expected could open,” Mabhena said. 

“The 2020 gave birth to my company Sapphire Rock and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. So I have a lot to thank God for. When I asked Joel to write me a song, it was from a place of thanksgiving,”, Mabhena said. 

The UK- based songstress who is working on an EP which will feature South Africa’s Zaza Mokheti says fans should expect more from her.

“I’m working on an EP and on the next song I am working on is featuring ZaZa Mokheti. My producer understands me, I think he will best interpret my sound. I think having worked so many years as a backing vocalist, it helped me to know what to do with my voice,”


“Working with Zimpraise, Janet Manyowa and being exposed to world class musicians has helped me learn new things about my voice. Its amazing how all that experience doing backing vocals has helped me on my own project,” she said.

The song has been welcomed with great enthusiasm among fellow artists and other first time listeners.

Musician, Prayersoul said:”Antonette this song made me cry maaaaaan. Thank you for putting this out. More music please. Music Video Please. Live it Love it.”


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