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Sunday, May 5, 2013


(Chris Ntuli)

Durban Black Drifters will host its 13th annual choir competition on May 10 in the Playhouse Opera. Some 50 choirs from Durban townships and surrounding areas will compete in this award-winning, vibrant, energetic and youth-based music competition. Huge cash prizes, trophies, certificates and give a ways are on offer. The event aims to preserve, promote and develop Isicathamiya at grassroot level.

Popular Ukhozi FM DJ and SABC TVsports presenter Joe Hudla will compere the event for the fifth time. Veteran Isicathamiya groups Zulu Messengers, NBA Champions and Imbokodo kaCothoza will entertain the audience while Eric ‘Coolfire’ Hadebe will re-kindle ancestors with burning of traditional incense (impepho) at the opening of the show.

Other top names invited to this prestigious music experience are Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dr T. Biyela of Dept of Education, Dr. Vera Dubin of Friends of Music, Vusi Mkhize of Vusisizwe Marketing Solutions, SABC Executive producer Dr Thulasizwe Nkabinde, Director of KZN Schools Mr. B. Ntuli and Caroline Smart of artSMart, to name but a few.

For the past 20 years, Durban Black Drifters have been involved in teaching Isicathamiya in townships, urban and rural schools. It is the only Isicathamiya group that teaches Isicathamiya at school level, encouraging schools to create their own groups which will eventually reach a high enough level to enter the competition. Led by singer, composer, producer and Nkandla-born Chris Ntuli, Drifters has toured overseas in France, Belgium, China, Norway, Japan, Canada and the USA Ntuli has been involved in the music industry for almost 30 years, and has worked and recorded with top artists such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo as well as the late Jabu Khanyile, Busi Mhlongo and Sipho Gumede. Also Madala Kunene, and Aerto Moreira (Brazil). Durban Black Drifters has released their 5th album entitled Lathini Ilembe. Ntuli has also initiated, recorded and produced the first Isicathamiya compilation album featuring 13 popular and veteran Durban-based Isicathamiya groups entitled The Best of Isicathamiya Groups.

In 1998 he recorded a "Lotto" jingle for Radio Lotus, East Coast Radio and Ukhozi FM with Neil Snyman and two senior members of his group. He gained much expertise in music production, specializing in mixing and mastering when he worked extensively under the leadership and guidance of Joseph Shabalala and Neil Snyman.

Ntuli has come a long and hard way with his music, when he first came to Durban in the early 70’s he spent his first two years on the streets in Point eking out a living from shipping contractors earning R2 a day. When chips were down, he would go for days without a meal.

Durban Black Drifters sing Isicathamiya or Cothoza music. The group comprises ten singers who reside in townships in the greater Durban area. Formed on February 13 1993, Durban Black Drifters aims to preserve, educate and promote indigenous Isicathamiya music, thereby spreading a message of peace and reconstruction which is especially important for South Africa.

Having worked for various publications, Chris Ntuli is a rare kind of musician who possesses many years of experience in marketing and dealing with the media. Before engaging in music fulltime, he was employed as a sales promotions manager for a long established national daily, Sowetan.

The 13th Caltex Isicathamiya High Schools Choir Competition is sponsored by Chevron SA organized and managed by DBD Entertainment. It won a BASA Award in 2005 as best youth-based music development project.

The competition starts at 10h00 sharp in the Playhouse Opera. Entrance is free. Dress smart casual or traditional. “No weapons, bottles, drugs, alcohol and no nonsense allowed,” says Ntuli. For more information contact 073 301 6740.