WATCH | How this jazz pianist challenges the limits of age
Andile Qongqo writes notes to remember. When the artist’s fingers sweep across the keys of a piano, a stillness descends.
“Music tells a story without words,” Qongqo says. “You will always feel something, even if something is never said.”
The smooth sounds of jazz are his forte, and in his hands, the genre takes on an African resonance. That’s because Qongqo is narrating his own profound tale.
“Growing up in the dusty streets of Mangaung, there were no music programmes available,” he says. As a result, Qongqo only began playing the piano at the age of 15. “I was never taught by anybody,” he says.
“I had to learn and watch people from a distance.” To hone his talents, Qongqo practised in churches and amateur bands throughout his teenage years.
Today, he expresses the struggles, tears, and joys that he has witnessed and experienced through music. “My main inspiration is to tell African stories,” Qongqo says.
Last year, Qongqo released his debut album, Q Signature, which received multiple nominations at the 2019 Mzantsi Jazz Awards.
With a licentiate diploma in Jazz Piano from Trinity College London, Qongqo now shares his passion for the instrument with students young and old as an instructor at the Free State Musicon.
“There’s no age limit for who can learn music,” he says. There’s talent within us all waiting to be fine-tuned.