Pop Idol back after journey with theatre

Patience Bambalele

With almost five years gone since she appeared in the 2002 Pop Idols talent search, Ayanda Nhlangothi says she is doing well in theatre.

Though Nhlangothi did not win the M-Net's competition, she still remains one of the most successful Pop Idols finalists.

Unlike many idols who capitalised on the competition's fame by kick-starting their music careers, Nhlangothi decided to take a break.

The singer-actress says she needed to take a step back to understand things.

"Disappearing from the limelight gave me a chance to understand myself and the industry as a whole," she says.

She says it has been a journey for her trying to understand a lot of things about the industry.

"I decided to go back to theatre and my first show was Sleeping Beauty that was staged at the Johannesburg Civic Theatre. After that I joined Amajika music and dance group. I also did session work with artists Tu Nokwe and Mango Groove," says the KwaMashu-born artist.

When Nhlangothi realised she was tired of local theatre, she left with Drum Struck that toured China, Vietnam and Australia.

She also tried to pursue a music career while in New York, but it did not work out. "I was very exhausted and felt this emptiness in me. I had everything that I wanted, but I just could not stay.

"I opted to come home to finish my album. That is why my theatre piece is called Ivoti. It is about self-acceptance."

The show had a brief run at the Catalina Theatre, Durban, and it's about her experiences as an idol.

The singing sensation has also dropped her debut album titled Music2me-Umngoma. She defines her album as Afro-funk because it has an influence of genres such as American R&B, hip-hop, maskandi, jazz and other sounds.

"I did not want my album to focus on one style."

She started singing at the age of 12, having grown in a family of music, with her mother, Marylyn Nokwe, and her aunt Tu, having a big influence on her.

Her grandmother, Patti Nokwe, is one of the first black opera singers in the country.