Eswatini’s country music duo hit the screens in New York


ON 17th November, Dusty and Stones, a feature-length documentary by filmmaker Jesse Rudoy had its world premiere at New York’s prestigious NYC DOC festival. This is America’s largest and most influential documentary festival, with screenings both in New York and online.

Gazi Simelane alias Dusty and Linda Msibi alias Stones are country music singers from the Kingdom of Eswatini. The 22-year-old band of two boasts of being the only African band to participate in the Texas Sounds International Country Music Awards, clinching the Duo of the Year Award 2017.

The 90-minute documentary tells the story of how the duo started in the industry, from humble beginnings at their home in Moihoek to music tours in the United States.

However, as Stones reveals, their journey to the current glory started when “Dusty came home one day with a guitar, then I was interested in it, I started taking some lessons on what he was doing.”

With consistent training and their compositions, Stones summarises the 22 years of making country music alongside his cousin as a “very fulfilling journey.”

“Shooting of the documentary began in June 2017 to 2019, and it is our dream come true that the world gets to hear and see our story,” explained Dusty.

After the Jesse Rudoy-produced documentary attracted high sales in its premiere event in New York, the duo hopes to embark on documentary screening tours across different countries where they have huge followings.

“We would like to have this screened in different places especially in South Africa and in Kenya, in fact, across Africa because we have a lot of followers,” he added.

Growing up in Mooihoek in Shselweni to the Southern East of Manzini, the duo was raised in the countryside, an environment that has significantly impacted themes in their compositions.

“We can’t sing Hip Hop, because we don’t relate to that. We are country boys …we grew up in the farm setting cattle, so country music and our way of life is just one thing,” explained Stones.

Dusty and Stones have performed in Texas, New York and Nashville in the United States. While in the US, country hitmaker and producer Robert Ellis Orral invited the cousins to his studio. At the famed Rukkus Room in Nashville, the same studio where American pop artist Taylor Swift made some of her hit singles, they recorded several tracks backed by a seasoned Nashville band.

They view their massive following in the US as an opportunity to tell the African story from the perspective of Africans who have grown up in the countryside with the hope of inspiring the world.

Dusty and Stones believe “country music is also part of the family. You hear people singing mostly about their parents, their sisters, their loved ones, all of whom are family,” Stones highlighted as he explained their deep connection with country music.

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