On December 18, an article in a weekly tabloid stated that Noma Khumalo, the Idols SA winner for 2016 was in the process of releasing her debut album, with its lead song allegedly in contravention of copyright laws. Khumalo had planned to name her debut CD Joy, which is also the name of the song in dispute.
The song Joy was presented by music publishing company, Sheer Publishing, to the Gallo record label as part of a selection of songs deemed suitable for the performer. Sheer was allegedly not aware of the song’s disputed authorship. Allegedly, Fundile Ndinga of Leconelle Music, Ntsolo’s producer, had leaked the damaging statements made about Khumalo and Gallo Music in what David Alexander, the managing director of Sheer described as an opportunistic gesture. He adds that he feels Ndinga has badly advised his client in his matter and has ignored the facts.
Sheer Publishing wishes to go on record to correct the perception that Khumalo or her record label has done anything wrong.
Amid a flurry of accusations made against the integrity of Khumalo, it emerges that the song was in fact co-written by Disebo Ntsolo, who had recorded it in 2012, with the support of song composer Molepo Leclere “Pablo” Serumule, associated with BantuFro Music, who had been her mentor for a period of a year, and who had helped to shape her as a professional.
However, Ntsolo signed an agreement with BantuFro in 2012, which effectively gives BantuFro the rights to this song and any other Ntsolo creates within the contract’s stipulated time frame. Serumule and his publishing company consequently had every right to present the song to Khumalo for her cover.
As cited above, the agreement further precluded Ntsolo from re-recording these songs for anyone else and therefore both Serumule and Sheer were surprised that Ntsolo had re-recorded Joy for another record label. There had been no formal release for this song; Sheer and Serumule were not made aware that Ntsolo was in the process of re-recording it for a new album, when they had offered it through Gallo to Khumalo for consideration in Noma’s debut album.
“Had we been aware that Disebo had not been credited or was re-recording the song,” says Zweli Sisilana of Sheer Publishing, “We would never have presented this song to Gallo for Noma, to avoid any copyright disputes or discrepancies. We are upset to see all of the misinformation that has been printed in the media and shared on social media labelling Gallo and Noma as having stolen the song, which is untrue.”
He added “While Disebo had a right to be properly credited as a songwriter, Noma and Gallo have every right to record the song and release it on her album,” adds Sisilana.
Serumule has formally explained his exclusion of Ntsolo’s name as a co-writer for the song, as a misunderstanding and has added that in no way should it reflect on the integrity of Khumalo or Sheer Publishing. Further, he acknowledges that any accusations against Khumalo’s integrity have been unfair and baseless.
Alexander said, “When we heard Joy for the first time it stood out as a song with potential, it needed the right artist and a label with budget. When Noma won idols we immediately thought that she would give this song her own special feel, her treatment of the song vindicates our opinion. We hope that ‘Joy’ will become a huge hit for Noma and that the South African public will hear her Joy in her holiday offering.”