Home Cover Story Loyisa Bala – All about a boy
Cover Story

Loyisa Bala – All about a boy

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By Gavin Prins

HE HAS TRAVELLED THE WORLD WITH HIS SMOOTH VOICE. HE ONCE LED TBN AS A CHANNEL DIRECTOR AND NOW LEADS ONE OF SA’S BIGGEST RADIO STATIONS, UMHLOBO WENENE AS A STATION MANAGER. HE IS ALSO A “GIRL DAD” TO KENZIE (11) TORI (6) AND JODY (2). BUT FANS AND FRIENDS SEEM OBSESSED WITH ASKING LOYISA BALA WHEN HE IS GETTING A BOY.

When are you making plans to get a boy?
There are just girls in your family,” seems to be a question that Loyiso (44) has had to come to terms with, especially after the birth of his third daughter, Jody. But, in an interview with InBound SA, singer Loyiso Bala says he has no plans to expand the family to accommodate a boy.

“I am not going to make babies just to get a boy. But other people seem to be obsessed about it. I am fine. I was pretty much surrounded by boys all my life. Having the girls and my wife is refreshing,” he says.

Loyiso, who lives in Gqeberha with wife Jennifer and their three daughters, was in Johannesburg to shoot a new gospel video in collaboration with singer Jessica Dalla Torre.

He was still young when riots broke out in Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape town where he was born. “My mom decided to send my siblings and me (brothers Zwai and Phelo and sister Pinky) to live with my cousin Lwando (Bantom, himself 19 at the time) when our school closed.

“Lwando worked at a petrol station to care for us kids and his mother. He organised some funds to send Zwai and myself to the Drakensberg Boys Choir and Phelo joined later.”

With no time to get a tertiary education, Loyiso went straight into a recording studio and so cemented his footprint in the South African music industry.

“A highlight for me was performing at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday in London. Madiba even wrote a letter confirming my attendance and endorsing me. Where is that letter by the way?” he says to himself.

He recalls 2008 as his most successful year. “I had three songs in the top 100. Hearing my song on the radio felt normal to me. I was winning Men’s Health as best man. I was GQ Magazine’s best dressed and You Magazine called me the sexiest man. I was on a roll.”

Something, however, was missing. Purpose. “I was busy recording in the USA. We were putting together some songs that some guy from a management company was going to shop around with. The guy said he could throw anything at me and I could sing it, even if it wasn’t my language or my style, it was R&B. Then he said something profound. He said I am lacking one thing. You are lacking. You. Give me you.

“For a moment there, I had forgotten who I was. I had to find my identity. Your identity is connected to your purpose. I was living from accolade to accolade. From praise to praise.”

And so, he decided to give Christianity a chance. “I thought, let me try out this Jesus thing and see if it works for me.

“I sat in Bible school with 18-year-olds, the oldest in class, famous as I was. I took a whole year off. I sat there, I felt like doing something purposeful, the feeling I had when I first started.”

It was after Bible school that he joined The Jesus Collective – an evangelical music organisation that aims to uplift communities through gospel music, and mentor up-and-coming musicians from previously disadvantaged areas.

Years went by, he met Jennifer, got married and had three beautiful girls. Then, one day, a phone from a friend saying TBN was looking for a manager. “I applied and got the job. My biggest challenge was getting revenue for a Christian TV station, and we achieved that. After 5 years, the revenue was up to R500 000 a month.

It was during this time that he completed an MBA from Henley Business School, finishing several courses in finance and music production.

But as the world suffered under the strict rules of Covid-19, so did the Bala family. “We had to downscale and move to a smaller house. Our income was suddenly down by 60%. It was a tough time. But we were blessed with good friends who helped us.”

Then, another call from a friend: “Umhlobo Wenene is looking for a station manager.”

Loyiso pondered first. “I mean, I haven’t spoken full sentences of isiXhosa in years. How was I going to manage a whole Xhosa station? I eventually decided to take the chance.” And so, the young Bala family packed their bags and moved to Gqeberha to start a new chapter in their lives. “Things are going so well. We are having the times of our lives,” he says.

The job he says he is most proud of is being a dad to three girls. “People still ask me where my boys are. I went to Drakensberg Boys Choir where it was just boys. I went to St. Sithians College. Just boys. I joined the TKZ family of 7 guys. Bala Brothers? Just boys. The girls are a breath of fresh air. Some people ask me if I want a boy, and the answer is no. I am perfectly fine and content.

Loyiso says he is a cheerleader type of dad. “I am a confidant. I am a constant source of encouragement for them.
I realise they all have different personalities and will one day take different paths. My role is to encourage them with the values I grew up with as a child.”

As soon as he gets into the house, its play time, he says. Asked which superhero he thinks they consider him to be, the answer is: “Superman! Daddy is constantly in the air, flying somewhere.” IB

What makes you angry? When people talk down to others.
What makes you happy? My family
Favourite food? Oxtail.
Ultimate movie? The Legend of 1900
Soft spot? Anyone’s kindness.

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