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My Journey To Success With Sunel Musician


Three-time SAMA Award-winning producer, Sanele Sithole shares where his passion for  music began and his success tips to young people.

It was the year of Sunel The Musician this year as he won two awards at the South African Music Awards on 2 June 2018. He took time to chat with KDanielles Media and this is what he said:

What inspired your passion for music?

It was actually my dad, who used to bring his friends over at our home and play records of different songs to them. My sister also used to love playing a lot of kwaito, so the different kinds of music I was exposed to from an early age sparked my interest for music.

Share how you broke into the music industry.

In 2011 I moved from Mooi River, in Kwa Zulu Natal to Johannesburg and got my first record deal at Demor Music. Demor (Thandukwazi Sikhosana) is from my hometown as well and he wanted to give me a break. I learned a lot there and produced songs such as shella by Bucie, as well as All over the world by Zakes Bantwini. A few years later I started El World Music, where all the magic world of music happens. Throughout my experience in the music industry I have learned that if you don’t have a plan and a team to help you get to where you want, it will take you longer to get there.

Congratulations on your SAMA Awards for the song Akanamali, featuring Samthing Soweto, does this recognition put more pressure on you?

Those who know me know that I compare music to an art gallery and songs as portraits. People will love and resonate with some art, and might not find another hanging next to it appealing. My music is a presentation of the art I make and that’s why I don’t like putting too much pressure on myself. If people like my music, I am happy, if they don’t I work harder to improve on it.

READ MORE: My Journey To Success With Samthing Soweto

What are some of the challenges and highlights you have experienced in your career?

I feel like a lot of producers don’t get as much recognition as artists and it can be discouraging. The highlights for me are the team I have, they are passionate about what they do. The single, Akanamali has been a very big highlight for me as well. And playing at Black Coffee’s Homecoming at Umthatha last year was a phenomenal experience.

How would you describe the music you make?

My music is not genre-based. Although it’s centred around dance music I also incorporate other genres, such as Afro Pop and gospel.

Which other artists would you like to work with?

I would love to work with Shekinah who also cleaned the SAMAs this year, Sjava and Lady Zamar.

Do you have fears, pertaining your career?

To be honest, I fear not being able to make music that people will resonate and relate to.

What is the best career advice you have received that you still apply?

The advice I got is that in the entertainment industry you have to get a good manager, who will help get you the right team to support your vision. I also learn a lot from my mistakes, which I believe are my biggest teachers.

What are your success tips to young people?

In anything you want to do be your authentic self and surround yourself with people who will support the vision you have. I also believe that there is no concrete formula for one to get to where they want to be. Just follow your dreams and trust that things will work out.


Connect with Sunel on:



Twitter: @SunELMusician

Below is a list for all the SAMA 24 winners:

Compelete list of winners

Best Selling Digital Artist of the Year – Joyous Celebration Volume 21 Heal Our Land by Joyous Celebration

Sampra Highest Airplay of the Year – Akanamali by Sun El Musician featuring Samthing Soweto

Best Traditional Faith Music Album – Andile kaMajola Chapter 8 Sekwanele by Andile kaMajola

Best African Indigenous Gospel Album – Samson Aphi Amandla Akho by Vuma Zion

Best Kwaito Album – Highly Flavoured by Busiswa

Best Afro Pop Album – 20 by Mafikizolo

Beste Kontemporere Musiek Album – Skepe by Jo Black

Best Pop Album – The Beautiful Madness by Tresor

Samro Highest Airplay of the Year Composer’s Award – Akanamali by Sun El Musician featuring Samthing Soweto composed by Sanele T Sithole

International Achievement Award – Shashika Mooruth

Best Rock Album – Selfmedikasie by Fokofpolisiekar

Best Hip Hop Album – Yellow by Shane Eagle

Best Dance Album – King Zamar by Lady Zamar

Best Maskandi Album – 6 to 6 by Abafana Baka Mgqumeni

Newcomer of the Year – Rose Gold by Shekhinah

Duo or Group of the Year – 20 by Mafikizolo 

Female Artist of the Year – Rose Gold by Shekhinah

Male Artist of the Year – I Am Music by Prince Kaybee

Album of the Year – Rose Gold by Shekhinah

Record of the Year – Omunye by Distruction Boyz

Photo Credit: Blaq Smith





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