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Lungi Naidoo finally hits the big time

By Lesley Mofokeng Entertainment Editor | Oct 08, 2016 |

Lungi Naidoo is finally doing herself, all polished, glistening and ready for the big time.

After years in the shadows and numerous attempts at breaking out as a solo act, she has cracked the code.

Naidoo recently inked a recording deal with Universal Music and next week will unleash an upbeat, well produced and beautifully sung dance album titled Black Diamond on the unsuspecting music loving crowd.

Born Nokulunga Naidoo on a sugar-cane farm in the KwaMaphumulo area in KZN to an Indian father, Billy, and Sibongile, a Zulu mother, Naidoo's story is as inspiring as it is painful.

Her parents couldn't marry due to the draconian apartheid laws of the time, until after the dawn of democracy. But she cherishes the times she spent on the farm. "I was obsessed with the sunrises and sunsets. I was also obsessed with the breakfast show on Radio Zulu (now Ukhozi FM), and I was obsessed with my father and mother.

"It wasn't hard growing up. We were sheltered from the world and the fact that we were different from other children was not an issue."

Determined to pursue a music career and with the support of her parents, Naidoo left the farm for Johannesburg after matric.

At the time all she wanted was to meet her idol superstar singer Brenda Fassie and follow in her footsteps.

"I kept Brenda as my goal. As a little girl I thought if I get to Joburg I will see her and be like her.

"I've been chasing this dream for too long and the journey, the obsession and the dream was music. And I've realised that as much as I can sing, talent alone is not enough.

"You have to sweat and put in the hours. Watching and working with Lebo Mathosa and Loyiso Bala as a backing vocalist was my varsity. I was willing to take the beating until I made it."

Naidoo released two CDs independently which failed to launch her. But there were some moments of excellence like when she wrote An Ideal, the official freedom song as commissioned by the department of arts and culture, and she got 20 local artists to sing it.

And now she is charging ahead with renewed vigour to hit the dance floors with her infectious beats of Black Diamond.

She has worked with the best in the game such as Black Coffee who produced two singles Falling and Away With Me which burst with energy and a strong tribal influence.

She has also worked with Mondli Ngcobo on the club banger Qhela which she says has a KZN sound as an identity of where she comes.

Her vocals are gentle and soothing, almost whispery here, but she goes deeper with her range on Uzobuya produced by Bobstar. The track is inspired by West African sounds and she says took her out of her comfort zone.

Naidoo says she is positive that this is her time.

"I had a moment last week when they played the master and I wanted to cry. I said 'ok Lord I understand now'.

"My life is changing. I've done this before but now it feels different. It's like an out-of-body experience. It's been worth it to get to this point.

"Now it's impossible to be a one hit wonder, something I dreaded. I have scars from this industry. I understand the realness of who I am and I will never get caught up in the image."

So much is going right in Naidoo's life. She sings and acts in Vaya, the new Akin Omotoso film and her Lungi Naidoo Foundation continues to touch young lives. They buy uniforms for children in 20 primary schools and take care of vulnerable children.

Her dream for her music career is platinum sales, live performances and a Grammy.

"I just want to make my dad proud. He sacrificed so much marrying a black woman and standing by her and the mixed race children. This has to be a success."