Up close & personal with Thandi Ntuli

Image: Supplied

Jazz artist Thandi Ntuli grew up with music. Ntuli, who is this year’s Standard Bank Young Artist for Jazz, will open the stage on Saturday at the annual Standard Bank Joy of Jazz festival which starts today. The 31-year-old did not always have an interest in jazz. She started piano lessons at the age of four but only realised her love for jazz much later in life. Ntuli holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from the University of Cape Town. She broke into the industry 10 years ago, having started doing professional gigs while studying. It was at the age of 16 that she realised she could make a career in music. “I’ve always been drawn to music and, when I was 16, I started really trying to write my own songs but it wasn’t until my last year in high school when my choir teacher planted the seed that I could study music and become a professional musician, that I considered it as a career path,” she says.

Image: Aubrey Jonsson.

Ntuli describes music as something that drives her life and being. “I use music to navigate my way through this very adventurous and often confusing life. Sometimes that manifests into compositions and other times it comes through on stage when I compose on the spot with other musicians, ” says Ntuli. She wants to continue evolving as a musician as she sees her art as an extension of herself. She says: “How I would do that, I guess, is by continuing to practise, to challenge myself and by doing my best to stay present and aware in each moment because my life informs my art.” The Umthandazo songstress would love to partner with Grammy-winning artist Oumou Sangare. “I am starting to feel like maybe the best collaborations are those that have a great synergy about them. But I’d die a happy lady if I could work with Oumou Sangare.”

While she is still fairly new to the industry, one thing she has learnt is people don’t always mean what they say and, simply put, it isn’t personal. If she hadn’t become a musician, she would have been an economist. “I probably would have found my way to music somehow but I did choose economics as a second choice when applying for university,” she says.

Image: Instagram

Ntuli has plans to travel more, grow and make more music. If she could have fans remember one thing about her it would be that she puts a lot of love into what she does and she urges them to practise more self-love. “Love yourself, heal yourself, feel your feelings, be still,” she says. 

Her latest album, Exiled, was released in February.

How Ntuli has her fun

When Ntuli is not working, this is what she does for fun: I just love being around good company and talking nonsense. I love to get lost in a good book, make music, sleep, be outdoors – whatever I feel for. 

did you know

It is the 21st anniversary of the Joy of Jazz festival which will take place at the Sandton Convention centre from 27 – 29 September. Tickets are available at Computicket

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