Royalties from gospel stars’ tribute song to Umhlobo Wenene’s Koyo, to go to his daughter

Bulelani Koyo.
Image: Facebook

Not even grief and a tight load-shedding schedule could deter six gospel artists from recording a tribute song to the late Bulelani Koyo.

Gospel singers Yolanda Vuthela, Mawethu Madikiza, Asithandile Gantana, Nthethelelo Faku, Thembinkosi Booi and Lusizo Bango joined their voices to reproduce Koyo’s version of the traditional Lizalise Idinga Lakho that appeared on his debut album Enkosi Jehova, released in 2016.

Koyo, 39, a radio host on Umhlobo Wenene and a popular gospel singer, succumbed to his battle with liver cancer on Monday at a Gqeberha hospital.

He was known and loved in both the choral and gospel spaces, with many colleagues and fans sharing messages of sadness and condolences on social media platforms.

Koyo’s longtime producer and collaborator, Siyabonga Hlekani, who produced Lizalise, said it was the best way artists could honour him.

The royalties of the song will go to his 12-year-old daughter Masibulele Koyo.

A day after Koyo’s death, Hlekani called the artists to join him in his Qonce studio.

“On Tuesday morning I was playing his music and remembered Lizalise was his favourite song on the album.”

He decided they needed to do a new version, and that Koyo’s daughter Masi, who was her father’s pride and joy, deserved to receive the royalties.

Because load-shedding was scheduled from 9pm in Qonce on Tuesday, the singers recorded from 6pm to 9pm.

Hlekani then edited the recording, working through to the early hours of Wednesday to ensure the song was ready and available.

Vuthela said her relationship with Koyo grew from being industry colleagues to becoming close friends.

The recording session gave everyone a chance to share their pain, she said.

“We met at the Crown Gospel Awards some years ago and from there we never looked back.

“We became friends, and he became both a brother and a colleague.”

Vuthela said the music industry was all about unity, and Koyo had played his part well.

“We created job opportunities, because when we had concerts we invited each other.”

This closeness meant that when she was approached by Hlekani, she did not hesitate.

“The best part for me was at the studio. There was sadness, we poured out our hearts, we cried, we had a chance to grieve and then we comforted each other. It was amazing.

“And the cherry on top is knowing his daughter will get all the rights to the song.”

Madikiza described Koyo as a brother and a friend.

“We related so much. BK had a good sense of humour. He made everyone feel welcome and at ease.

“He was our happy place, he had a vibe.”

It warmed his heart knowing the song would make a difference, she said.

“When Hlekani mentioned that we were doing it for his daughter as well, I definitely wanted to be part of that so BK could know his friends and colleagues were helping to make sure Masi would be taken care of.”


By Anelisa Gusha and Avuyile Mkhabe