Interview with African Boy Donel Mangena

Written & Interviewed By | Leyan Bitar

19-year-old singer/songwriter Donel is making big moves in 2021 with his three-track EP African Boy Pt. 1 which released on April 9th with Warner Records. His first as a signed artist, the EP brings the fans Donel’s unique pop vision with a sweet blend of Top 40, R&B, and Afropop sounds.

When IMPRINT asked about this EP’s release, Donel said, “It went good, yeah! It’s like my first project so there you go… Because I was used to releasing singles and now I’m signed to Warner Records. It’s just nice for me to be able to release a small body of work that people can listen to and gage what kind of artist I am and just to introduce myself to the whole scene, industry, and to the world basically.”

Yet this wouldn’t be the first time the world sees Donel. At the age of 16, Donel pushed himself to audition for The Voice UK. On the show’s seventh series, Donel was mentored by the founding and lead member of the Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am, and landed the series’ runner up position.

To Donel, being 16 and in the spotlight wasn’t a hard or pressuring thing at all. He said, “I remember having that mindset, I’m gonna go out there and smash it! That’s it… [I thought] how can I go out there and shine? I’m [wanna] give these people a show… something they ain’t seen before.”

On working with will.i.am, Donel said, “Ah, it was crazy! It was a great relationship. He was very supportive of me and my career. Being able to talk to him, every day, and text him, and him message me on Instagram… he believed in me and was very much a great [part] of the [journey].”

His time on The Voice UK didn’t go unnoticed, in fact, it caught the eye of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“It was mad… I was in college…My dad called me… He calls me Donny, so he said, ‘Donny you not gonna believe me, I just got a call from someone and you’ve been invited to  for the Queen’s birthday!’”

Reflecting on being named “The Star of the Future” and his performance for the Queen’s 92 nd Birthday Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Donel said that it was a very cool, amazing part of his life.

But Donel is not stopping any time soon. To him, this is just the beginning. His re introduction to the world with Warner Records is bringing an EP that transports you and whoever you’re listening to with to a warm, summery time filled with good vibes and energy.

What’s next? Well, Donel says there’s a part two to the EP that fans should be on the look out for. His final remarks… “I want to show more of Africa. I wanna take it international, I wanna take the sound international. I want everyone to hear and I want everyone to have fun… that is the vibe.”

Connect with Donel Mangena

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