I met with Mrs March for breakfast early in July and discovered she is much more than a Gospel Singer but also a businesswoman with an unbelievable journey to success. Her life is full of beautiful out-of-this-world surprises and Blessings that I had to ask her which one stands out the most…
Puleng: ‘…one that comes to mind right now is the moment my young daughter opened my show with Prayer. For my little one to stand in front of thousands of people to Pray and Bless my work…it filled my heart with pride and satisfaction. I saw the greatness and love of God in that moment’.
Kea: It surely sounds like a special moment. Congratulants to you and your husband as parents. But before that special moment, and the show…where did it all begin?
Puleng: it started in Kimberley where I was raised by a single parent – Pastor Tollie. I was the third of four children. God has been my only Father throughout my life. He stepped in when my earthly father rejected us. That’s why I love the Lord to the core.
I moved to Johannesburg in 2001 to pursue my music career. It was very scary because I came from a small town of Kimberley where we heard all sorts of scary things about Johannesburg. But I knew this was the place I had to be to give my dreams a chance to make it in the music industry.
I had just been in the big city for a few days and was literally standing on the side of the road trying to figure out the city…asking myself ‘where do I start?’ when a car pulled by and the gentleman asked me where I was going. I simply told him that I wanted to sing. Little did I know that it was the record company mogul Tshepo Nzimande. He says he just stopped to talk to a beautiful girl standing on the side of the road. And just like that he gave me directions to a building where there were auditioning singers. But when I got there, I found that they were having rehearsals and not auditions. One of the ladies was struggling with a part and they asked me to try. I did and they hired me on the spot.
Within the first week of being in Johannesburg, I got a gig as a back-up singer surrounded by legends of the industry and continued to work non-stop for five years. It was lockdown that made me aware of how long I had been working.
From that I knew it was God and His perfect timing. He knew where He was taking me, who I was going to meet and how it would pan out.
I was on the road with TS Records, joined the Lion King in Singapore for a year followed by Joyous Celebration until 2017 when I went solo.
KMM: most artists work on their ‘demos’ and wait for years before getting on stage, if they ever get signed to a Record Label…but not you. How do you explain that?
PM: I always tell people not to pray only when there are challenges and pain but to Pray all the time, even when things are going well, because there are times when things are so bad, and one is down and overwhelmed by hurt that we are unable to Pray. That is the time when the previously said Prayers cover us and kick open doors in ways we cannot explain. I think it is because of such Prayers, the Prayers that were said by boGogo years before.
I believe that those are the Prayers that were manifesting when I arrived in Johannesburg.
“God has been so good to me I wanted to Praise Him every day and singing anything else felt like I was praising another god…
not the GOD I KNOW.”
KMM: That is so powerful. I always remind people that God does not forget Prayers. You describe your journey in a way that sounds like it was easy…
PM: I cannot lie and say it was easy because it wasn’t. There were people who asked, ‘who do you think you are that you can do this?”
There was also a time that we worked without getting paid. I once spent 2weeks in Durban and only got paid R600.00 – and still had to send money home and also provide for myself in Johannesburg. It was not easy.
What convinced you that you could make it in the industry? Especially when coming from a small town?
The fact that I am here. I stood and stand on the promises of God. I am a girl that grew up in the township, in a mkhukhu (shack), where there were hardly role models. I did not grow up with role models. There are times where I ask myself why I fear and worry about the industry and my career when God is the one who brought me to it. It is God’s plan, and I must hold on to it…it does not mean I must relax but instead work hard, ‘Faith without works is nothing’…so I must put in the time, rehears and make sure that my craft grows.
I also understand and believe that we all have a role to play and our own dedicated space. I’m comfortable with this career and Ministry being my space in which I do not have to compromise anything about who I am.
What has been your biggest lesson in your journey?
To never give up and holding on to the promises of God. Whatever God has said will come to pass. I also love talking to myself…like the woman in the Bible of the sickness of blood. I believe she had a conversation with herself before she went to look for Jesus. She had to tell herself that she is going there…’no matter what people will say I am going there for Jesus to heal me.’ And I do the same, before my feet hit the floor every morning, I preach to self: ‘Puleng you are anointed. You are a strong woman, you are a beautiful person, you have a good heart and a good husband, and your marriage is standing on solid rock that is Christ Jesus.’ Those are the things I say to myself every morning before I listen to what the world says.
Every day I realise why God has chosen me. Sometimes I ask ‘why me? Why did God choose me? I am just a girl from a township. But now I understand that he chose me the way I am, different and unexpected as I am so that other girls who are told they don’t belong, they don’t look or speak a certain way to also know that they can make it in life. I get DMs (social media Direct Message) from young women saying that they see themselves in me. I appreciate that. And the ‘#marchingon’ phenomenon is catching on…they tell me ‘I am marching on…I’ve gone back to school, I’ve registered a business, I’m starting a podcast…’ Such lets me know why God chose me.
You changed from Afro-Pop to Gospel…after winning awards and you were very popular as an Afro-Soul singer…what convinced you to change and start from scratch?
I knew for a long time that I love Gospel Music. I was saved when I was 13years old. Gospel is all I know. It is just that team who are legends in the industry believed there was a gap to filled and it was not in Gospel music. I took their advice and agreed to pursue Afro Soul – as long as we kept it positive. And I did well and even won many reputable awards but it was not me.
I remember the onetime we performed in Port Elizabeth, it was a beautiful show, and the crowd was happy and cheered on…but, after the show I was in tears. I cried because I felt like a sell out to who I really am. And on that day, I told my road manger that I cannot, and I will not do it again.
They did not believe it but I never did another show as an Afro-Soul artist.
And because God is God who makes all things work for good, I shortly thereafter received an offer to do the Lion King in Singapore. Saying yes to the offer gave me the opportunity to prepare for the change to Gospel mentally and emotionally.
Was it an easy transition?
I was of course worried about the contract with the Label… but I was sure I wanted to do Gospel.
God has been so good to me I wanted to Praise Him every day and singing anything else felt like I was praising another god…not the GOD I KNOW. Because all things work out for good for those who love the Lord – the company I was contracted to closed down at the very time I needed to be released. God coordinated everything to work for my transition to Gospel music.
Shortly thereafter, I received a call from ‘But Lindelani Mkhize to invited me to join Joyous Celebration. Before I left for the Lion King, he had already recognised the Gospel Singer in me, so he called as soon as he heard I was back in the country. I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to enter the Gospel Music community and learn as much as I could before going solo.
I started from scratch. My team did not understand how I could start all the way from the bottom, join a choir and be on a stage where I am not seen or singled out. But it was not a demotion for me. Some saw this move as digression on my side, others said I was down-and-out, but it was not that. God was just doing a new thing with me…now I have 11 awards and nominated for more… I am the same person they said to be throwing away my career and digressing. But God knew and I was just bold enough to follow His calling.
Unlike many, you are not afraid to start from scratch…
This interview makes me realise that it is not only with Joyous Celebration where I started from scratch and God showed up for me. The move to Johannesburg was a move into the unknown and I was a paid singer within the week of my arrival in the city.
I left a stable group to become a solo artist and did well and my awards tell a success story.
When I joined the Lion King, I had not acted a day in my life…but I was played character, earning money I was not prepared for.
When I joined Joyous Celebration, I was starting a completely new career. My contract with the Lion King was not done but I opted for Joyous Celebration which paid little compared to the Lion King. But because of the Calling I took that option and the return on investment is immeasurable.
When I decided to become an independent singer, I decided to do so under my own label – Kemotho Entertainment, using my own money and resources and people discouraged me…saying I would not make it on my own…they were waiting for me to fail, but, with God, I didn’t, and I am succeeding. From this I have become passionate about being independent and owning your craft. I am confident to say I am a businesswoman and I encourage my friends to do the same. I am confidently and boldly empowering my children to build their own legacy and wealth and have already started involving them in business.
What do you think has made you this successful?
I have always taken a step of Faith.
God comes through for those that put their complete trust in Him. Kemotho Entertainment was established when I did not know anything about the entertainment business…I had always been in the front line singing and never in the back office making things happen. So, I did not have the experience, but I always asked questions, I always did those tasks or interviews that others did not want to do…little did I know I was preparing for the day I would start my company.
I have seen God performing Miracles in my life. @pulengmarch #keepmarching