Up Close & Personal with Brian Temba
WHAT you see is not always what you get. So says R&B maestro Brian Temba.
He reckons the guy we see on stage is not the real him but a façade he puts up for the public. In reality he's a shy guy (hah! Don't they all say that?) who enjoys cleaning house and singing at the top of his voice.
We meet at the trendy Ascot Hotel in Norwood, Joburg.
He's dressed to the nines - his dreadlocks are gone and he's wearing a sexy pair of jeans, a biker jacket and formal black shoes. Stylish!
Unlike many men, Brian loves looking good and enjoys retail therapy.
"Shops aren't good for me. I can spend the entire day shopping and come out with bags and bags.
"My dad asked me the other day why I have so many pairs of shoes, just like a woman." He giggles like a naughty kid.
He's wearing formal shoes, but he says he's more of a sneakers guy.
"I have like 30 pairs and I love watches, whether cheap or expensive - as long as they look good," he says looking at his rather large bling studded white piece. But he does it with such poise it hardly comes off as arrogance.
He's just a man with taste. And with his dreadlocks gone he looks different from his Dominoes hit phase.
So is this the real Brian?
"This look is for myself and I guess for public appeal too. The hair was getting in my way after 11 years of growing it. I got sick of it twisted. Besides, I'm in a new mindset. It's about growth."
Coincidentally his new single This Is My Time plays in the background.
He beams with delight.
"That's my song playing, hey? Oh wow, how great is that?"
He's bursting with pride, like a kid who's been awarded a gold star.
"And to think I never wanted or even thought of this as a career. Growing up I'd sing while doing house chores... I can clean your house from top to bottom. It's enjoyable... therapeutic."
He says he was always the quiet boy, always in the background, and had very little self-confidence.
"I had a chat with my dad just yesterday, asking why he never motivated me. He knew what I was good at but insisted I go into business management, which I loathed."
He looks a bit annoyed ... disappointed perhaps...
"He said to me he only wanted what was best for me - like his parents thought they could choose for him. I could've reached my goals a long time ago if I had support."
Apparently his dad has a soothing and melodic voice too. "My mom tells me he used to sing way back in high school... hahahaha! He'll never tell me that. But I love my dad."
But in the end history didn't repeat itself. Brian believes he had a calling that couldn't be ignored or suppressed by any outside forces.
"God brought me here - literally".
His moment came when he was at church, at a youth celebration at which Rebecca Malope was performing. He sang along and improvised in the background - and a friend threatened to tell the pastor that Brian could sing.
"Man, I begged him not to say anything. But he did it anyway and the pastor gave me three weeks to prepare something.
"My nerves! I was sick. I first sang at a wedding and I choked. When it came to my début in church my voice was shaking but I had improved and soon I was in my element. And, like they say, the rest just followed.
"I'd sit by myself at college and write down the names of people that I'd like to sing with and I've sang with most of them already. I still can't believe it sometimes."
From groups like Royal Priesthood to Family Factory and being backup singer to Vicky Vilakazi and Jonathan Butler, Brian was coming into his own and on his way to international fame.
Soon he was in the Lion King in the US, where he finally launched his solo music career.
"Acting is another thing I never dreamt I could do. And to land the lead role after a few years was beyond me. A small time boy from Soshanguve who was achieving all this? Man! It was - and still is - unbelievable."
This is my Time , recorded in Las Vegas, is due for release in mid-June.
THIS & THAT
- Born in Soshanguve, Pretoria.
- Won't reveal his age, except that he's in his late 20s, early 30s.
- Commutes between London, where he has a six-year-old daughter, and South Africa, where he was born.
- Loves playing playstation - is a serial gadget geek, and loves computer applications and systems.
- Grew up listening to Jennifer Rush, Michael Bolton, Roxette, Chris Rea, Joe Thomas and Letta Mbuli. But his number 1 artist is John P Kee.
- Enjoys oxtail, lamb, seafood and Chinese.
- Starred in John Kani's Lion and the Lamb, and a short film called Hip Hop Opera, and has been involved in making various movie soundtracks locally and internationally.
- While making his first album he lost his only brother Andile in a car accident.
- "It was the worst time of my life. I did a song called Better Than dedicated to his memory."