After matriculating, Hlongwane worked as Laboratory Assistant at Ausaf, an aluminum factory in Richard’s Bay where he spent five years as a Laboratory Assistant.
After resigning at Ausaf, Jabu enrolled at the University of Zululand for a degree in Education. While studying at the University, he established various gospel music groups that included a choir he named “The Emmanuels”, a 7-member group he named Treasured Voices alongside his friend and talented pianist, Mthunzi Namba.
The dynamic duo frequently performed in campus venues and staged concerts with the choir while also joining the college’s Jazz ensemble where they experimented with jazz, soul and African music.
After graduating with a pedagogic degree, Hlongwane got his first teaching job at a high school where he taught the English language for three years.
He then went on to teach at Esikhawini College for 8 years. It was during this time that he pursued music professionally and also dabbled in acting for television.
The Music Journey
The year 1994 marked the start of Hlongwane’s professional solo music career as he released his first studio album. Prior to the release of hid album, Jabu had helped establish a contemporary Gospel group called Family Factory with his friends Lindelani Mkhize and Namba.
This gospel music group elevated the genre’s standing in South Africa’s music landscape. Family Factory released two albums and on their second project, they worked with US producer and music director Ray Chew as well as R&B sensation Kelly Price.
The band set a new standard as they introduced a contemporary sound to South African gospel music.
Hlongwane went on to release nine solo albums; three of which were recorded live. He is currently working on his 11th offering.
The genesis of Joyous Celebration started as an idea in 1995 between Hlongwane and his two friends, Namba and Mkhize. They wanted to create a platform to find, develop and groom talent in Gospel music. Since its inception, Joyous has produced hundreds of talented artists over the years and filled the Awards cabinet with numerous awards from South Africa and beyond. The group has released over 20 albums and on the 19th of December 2015, they celebrated their 20th anniversary in front of a capacity crowd in the Moses Mabhida Stadium located in Durban, South Africa.
Their 21st album was recorded live in Dallas, Texas at Bishop T.D Jakes’ Potter House in 2016 alongside the house choir.
Hlongwane’s role in building and elevating Joyous Celebration cannot go understated, especially considering that he started the administration of the Joyous brand from the boot of his car.
The Joyous brand has now grown into a business that employs more than 70 people.
As an acclaimed singer, songwriter and producer, Hlongwane has solidified his position as a pioneer of gospel music in South Africa and beyond. For his work, he was awarded the, “Best Contribution in Gospel” at the Africa Gospel Music, the South African Music Awards for best traditional Gospel Album.
Jabu has been invited to perform in many African countries like Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and Swaziland to name a few as well as conquering cities in the United States like New York, Boston and Washington, DC. He also performed to a capacity crowd in London in a show specially organized for him.
Hlongwane has been invited to prestigious events like the Martin Luther King Birthday commemoration as well as the Black History Month celebration in New Jersey. In 2008, he was presented a key to the city of Maryland and was named an honorary citizen.
A year before, Hlongwane and Joyous Celebration were invited to perform in Birmingham by the Mayors of London, Cardiff and Scotland. But no moment holds more honor than when he recorded and performed the, “Constitution Song” in South Africa’s Parliament after the country’s new constitution was launched.
Beyond the Music
Outside of music, Hlongwane has brought his business acumen into the Entertainment space by establishing his company named Crosspower Media International that specializes in music production, marketing as well as concept design and implementation in the fields of music and entertainment. Carrying on in the spirit of teaching, the company also offers training and workshops in music.
He has authored a book called, “Finding Meaning” and is in the process of writing the second.
Hlongwane also dedicates his time to ministry. He is a Pastor of Crosspower Ministries Church in Johannesburg. The impact of his ministry is felt throughout Africa as he has been invited to guest preach, sing or coach in different churches and conferences across the continent.
Most importantly, he is a devoted husband to Sibongile Hlongwane and dedicated father to their four children.