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Thursday, September 29, 2016


(Chris Ntuli joins in a choir's presentation)

The 15th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Competition will take place tomorrow (September 30) in the Playhouse Opera. 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 always are on offer. The 1st prize is R5,000, the 2nd prize is R3,000 and the 3rd prize is R2,000 – all three include trophies. The event aims to preserve, promote and develop Isicathamiya at grass root level. Veteran Isicathamiya groups NBA Champions and Xolo Homeboys will entertain the audience while Eric Coolfire will rekindle the ancestors with the burning of ‘impepho’ (traditional incense) at the opening of the event.

The 15th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Competition will make history being for the first ever, an Isicathamiya youth show staged six days apart from senior national choirs. This will prove to all that DBD Entertainment and the Playhouse Company are undoubtedly champions in the promotion and development of Isicathamiya music in SA and the world.

The competition next year will see the return of a theme which was stopped years ago due to copying by students. The project objectives are to educate and develop as many choirs and preserve the music heritage which started in the late 18th century by miners and migrant workers. Over 30 groups were established through this multiple award winning project. Mpumalanga White Birds and Nyuswa Homeboys have been recorded and appeared on TV, and are both direct products of this project.

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 US. 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, both late Jabu Khanyile Busi Mhlongo and Sipho Gumede, Madala Kunene, and Aerto Moreira (Brazil). Ntuli has also initiated, recorded and produced the first Isicathamiya compilation album featuring 16 popular and veteran Durban-based Isicathamiya groups entitled The Best of Isicathamiya Groups, released under Universal Music label. He recorded two albums with Ladysmith Black Mambazo entitled Thuthukani Ngoxolo and Ukuzala Ukuzelula  featuring Inzalabantu women group from Weneen near Ladysmith.

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 of ten singers, all of whom 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.

The 15th High Schools Isicathamiya Music Choir Competition is made possible by Playhouse Company, the Department of Arts & Culture, the Department of Education and Ithala Bank; conceptualized, organized and managed by DBD Entertainment. It won a BASA Award in 2005 as best youth-based music development project.

The show starts at 10h00 sharp in the Playhouse Opera and entrance is free. Dress smart casual or traditional. Weapons, bottles, drugs, alcohol, bags, suitcases and students without school uniform are all not allowed.