New king of amapiano in town

American-born vocalist Big Sbuda looks set to conquer the piano deep market with his vocal prowess. Picture: Supplied

American-born vocalist Big Sbuda looks set to conquer the piano deep market with his vocal prowess. Picture: Supplied

Published Nov 20, 2023


South Africa has a new piano deep vocalist in town. Big Sbuda is the latest entrant to the country’s biggest musical exploit, the amapiano movement which has, over the years, taken the world of music by storm.

The American-born musician, real name Ronnie Dunn, says he has fallen in love with the country’s biggest sound.

Big Sbuda whose single, Motherland, a song about Ubuntu and its ability to fill the void nestled deep in most people’s hearts for the love of Africa, says he feels a special connection with the continent, its culture and its music. This is the reason why he was drawn to take up piano deep as his musical choice.

“We all have that connection with the motherland, longing to be here and chase our roots,” says Big Sbuda.

“It is us telling our stories to each other, without the lies and misinformation, sibling to sibling,” he says of his new single and love for the motherland.

According to his biography, the St Louis, Missouri native served in the military and is from a musical family.

The musical heritage, which he says flows in his veins, has been passed down from his father, Ronnie Strong, a talented musician who played bass guitar for various blues bands and artists worldwide, and his grandfather, Reverend James Fuller, of The Silver Wings Quartet out of St Louis, Missouri.

He says his stage name, Big Sbuda, was given to him when he started visiting South Africa for the first time more than two years ago when he met a woman named Busi, which is a male version of a blessing he seeks to invoke with his musical direction.

“The plan is to get the crowd to embark on a sonic odyssey with him as he traverses the rhythmic landscapes of piano deep, weaving tales that echo the spirit of both South Africa and African Americans. Together, let us embrace the harmonies that bridge continents and celebrate the heartbeat of the Motherland … My journey as a military veteran led me to South Africa, a path not initially aligned with music but intricately woven by a higher plan,” he says.

On his new single, Big Sbuda collaborated with talented director Lemogang Tsipa. Together, they crafted the evocative song and music video, Motherland.

He says the auditory and visual ode amplifies his deep vocal styling and showcases Tsipa’s exceptional directorial skills, delving into the heart of his roots and the connection between South Africa and African-Americans.

This sub-genre of the amapiano movement, piano deep — a blend of amapiano, deep house, R&B and Afro tech – is , a musical fusion that aims to captivate the younger generation and the mature crowd, creating a vibe to dance to at a club or chill on a Sunday while braaing.

“I was captivated by piano beats when I heard Young Stunna, who is my favourite artist,” he quips.

Big Sbuda’s favourite amapiano song is Sithi Shwi ft Big Zulu or Sthini istory ft Visca.