Stimela's Sam Ndlovu describes learning from Ray Phiri as a 'privilege'

Sam Ndlovu performs with Ray Phiri, who he is going to replace in the band Stimela.
Sam Ndlovu performs with Ray Phiri, who he is going to replace in the band Stimela.
Image: Supplied

Fans were a little concerned when Stimela announced that they were ready to release music for the first time since Ray Phiri's death‚ but front man Sam Ndlovu has proven why Phiri chose him.

When Stimela lost Nana Coyote and Ray Phiri became the group's front man‚ he took Ndlovu under his wing so that the train would continue moving.

"I was often shocked by the faith he showed in me‚ in the younger me. I am well-aware that there were other‚ better qualified musicians‚ well-known musicians who could have slotted in naturally into the group. But Ray went for a "nobody" as far fame was concerned and I will always be grateful for that."

Ndlovu told TshisaLIVE that one of the things Phiri taught him was the importance of letting the music take the lead.

Not only was he a music mentor but he was a life mentor to Ndlovu as well.

"Ray always told me that Stimela chose its predecessors. He said the group always chose its own people to take the legacy forward and it chose me‚ he was just following what the group dictated.

"After his passing‚ I must say the most difficult thing was the fact that he stood on my right. I stood on his left when we were performing on stage. The first few shows we did without him I kept looking to my right and there was no one. It was only me. It felt lonely‚ strange and scary but somehow I could hear his voice in my head going 'have fun'. Even when we were recording this album I knew he would have wanted us to have fun and carry on his legacy. He would have wanted us to catch the train‚ as the name of our single goes."

The much-anticipated album from Stimela since Phiri's death has been warmly received by Mzansi and Ndlovu shared that the group was excited.

A month after its release‚ it seemed the group managed to keep their loyal fans while simultaneously recruiting new fans. This was exactly what Stimela set out to do.

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