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INDEPENDENT MUSIC EXPORTERS SOUTH AFRICA: IMEXSA is is proud to offer its export-ready musicians, managers and company representatives export ready training and showcase opportunities: A moving trailer of hope, lead by passion to change lives and make dreams come true, this right here is a movement challenging perceptions of what it takes to be a successful independent musician in South Africa. 
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Jessica Mbangeni

The arts and an entrepreneurial spirit have been an integral part of Jessica Mbangeni’s life. As a child growing up in the village of Ngqamakhwe, Eastern Cape, she worked alongside her grandmother in the fields and also sold fresh produce to support the family. In the evenings, she’d listen to amazing tales told by her granny, who was also a great orator. Another added advantage to growing up in villages near the one of the Xhosa kingdoms meant that there was no shortage of wordsmiths who narrated the history of the Xhosas and the rich traditions that are revered by its people.
As a six year old Sunday school choir lead singer, litte did she know that the influences which surrounded her upbringing would define her career.
By the time she reached Ezizweni Senior Secondary and later, Eastern Cape Technikon, her powerful voice had caught the attention of many and led to her scoring a part in Nkosinathi Mbombela gospel album, titled Umthwalo, where she sang lead on a couple of tracks. That experienced marked a turning point for this singer, songwriter, poet and entrepreneur.
Despite the early breakthrough, things didn’t go as smoothly as she had envisaged when she relocated to Johannesburg in search of a brighter future as an artist.
Instead of landing a record deal, she was forced to seek employment as a domestic worker in Fordsburg, earning a mere R400 a month. Unable to survive on this meager wages and also send money to her family back home, her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she supplemented the wages by selling cosmetics to fellow domestic workers during her spare time.
However, her dream of career in the arts remained and her deep passion for music led to her being noticed and invited to work with South African music royalty – among them Hugh Masekela; Sibongile Khumalo; Dolly Rathebe;Abigail Kubheka and Thandi Klassen.
When she signed up and toured the globe with the award winning Soweto Gospel choir, Jessica saw another opportunity to supplement her artist wage through selling beaded crafts after performances and explain the hidden meaning behind the intricate beads to her audiences after each show. Suddenly all the skills she learned in Ngqamakhwe of story-telling, praise singing and running a business came alive in Scotland, France and the USA.