Toya Delazy: Moving up, up and up

"When I wrote my stuff it wasn't about looking for attention. I wanted people to be affected by it. I wanted to give joy to people and to revitalise them"

TOYA Delazy's interview with Sowetan had to be postponed because of her swollen vocal cords.

The doctor ordered her not to talk for at least two days.

"I couldn't talk. I had to write everything down," she chuckles a few later, when we finally manage to get hold of her.

Graeme Gilfillan of Nisa Global entertainment says : "Toya has struck a sensitive nerve in the music industry".

Not so long ago, the 22-year-old Delazy, born Latoya Buthelezi, was straddling between her studies and a part-time job as a hockey coach.

Delazy, who is IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi's granddaughter, also sang in pubs in Durban.

"I performed in pubs for R20. I did it for the love of it," she says.

This year she released her debut album, Due Drop and has opened for international acts like Adam Lambert and Daniel Bedingfield.

She says she is amazed by how people have embraced her and her music.

"When I wrote my stuff it wasn't about looking for attention. I wanted people to be affected by it. I wanted to give joy to people and to revitalise them."

Delazy's sound is a mix of jazz, rock and hip-hop.

It is hard to imagine that Delazy, who has kept audiences electrified since her hit single, 'Pump It On', graced the airwaves in 2011, once doubted her singing talent.

"I was afraid to show it. You know when you are afraid of being judged?"

At first her family was unhappy with her career choice and she had to be assertive, an attitude she says comes through clearly in her song Heart.

"It was either going to be my way or I was going to chill in Ulundi and work in the municipality or something."

Her success has since convinced her family that she was right.

Her love for music was inspired by her family.

At the age of 9, she had her first piano lesson and then studied jazz piano at Howard College in Durban.

She describes herself as "crazy in a buck sort of way", a trait she says she inherited from her mother, who died in 2008 when Delazy was in Matric.

"She was such a spirited person. She taught me to be true to myself."

Delazy is hard at work, developing Team Delazy, a group of dancers and DJ's who work with her on all her projects.

Fast facts about Toya:

Born on February 5 1990, Toya Delazy hails from KwaZulu-Natal.

JEHP, which stands for jazz electro pop, is a term she has coined to describe her unique sound.

Before the release of her first single on the album Pump it on, she had already started making waves with the video getting 175355 views on YouTube.

This urban songbird has shared the stage with well-known artists, including Tumi & The Volume and Baba Maal .

She performed at the Miss South Africa pageant, which was held on December 9.

Her debut album, Due Drop, was released in April 2012.

Delazy has 39,684 followers on Twitter and 88,328 likes on her Facebook page.