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Thursday, May 10, 2018


(Nkosinathi High School students from Amatikwe 
with Durban Black Drifters leader, Chris Ntuli)

Durban Black Drifters will be embarking on a five-month workshop tour on Isicathamiya music in preparation to the 16th Isicathamiya High Schools Choir Competition to take place at the Playhouse Opera on September 28, 2018.

The group is calling on all Durban-based high schools to book their workshops urgently as there are only 50 schools needed for this event.

For the very first time, a whooping cash prize of R50,000 and trophies are up for grabs to winners. The project will be visiting all Durban Metro high schools only in areas such as Kwa-Mashu, Ntuzuma, Inanda, Umlazi, Clermont, Hammarsdale and all other metropolitan townships. Students will be taught in all Isicathamiya music disciplines and to uphold all their cultural values. The workshops are free and will be conducted in school halls and classrooms.

SABC TV sports presenter and Ukhozi executive producer, Joe Hudla, will compere the event for the 11th time. The show is not about prizes and money but education, development, preserving and promotion of this genre which is on the verge of extinction. There are no joining or entrance fee to the choirs and public.

Students will be entertained by Isicathamiya veteran groups such as High Stars, Uhlelo Olusha, Mzumbe Lover Boys, while Eric ‘’Coolfire’’ Hadebe will rekindle ancestors with the burning of impepho (incense) during the opening of this show.

During 2014 national choirs at Playhouse, over 20 groups from this development show were recorded in open section category. Other young groups that have been produced by this project are Mpumalanga White Birds of Hammarsdale, Nyuswa Home Boys of Botha’s Hill and Abafana Basetembeni of Melmoth, and a host of others who are now singing at YMCA and all other surrounding Durban and rural halls.

Durban Black Drifters is the only Isicathamiya group that teaches this music to schools and it seeks to preserve, promote, educate and develop this genre at grassroots level so that the music can stay for generations as it is on the verge of extinction.

Started in 1992 as a workshop project by Durban Black Drifters, the event has established and transferred skills to over 2,000 school groups. It has won a BASA award and numerous other cultural awards as the best youth-based Isicathamiya music development project.

DBD has been in music for three decades. They’ve toured France, Belgium, Norway, Canada, USA, China and Japan. Drifters have also appeared in a Broadway musical written by American playwright, Ermill Thrower, called Hurricane Katrina’, dedicated to the flood victims of New Orleans in 2004.

Ntuli, as a leader, has worked and recorded two albums with Ladysmith Black Mambazo entitled ’Ukuzala Ukuzelula and Thuthukani Ngoxolo. He later translated both albums for Paul Simon with a help from a friend, Msizi Shabalala. He further appeared with Mambazo in King Cetshwayo musical play, written and directed by Prince Njengabantu Zulu who had just came back from exile in America in 1994. The others he has recorded with include Aerto Moreira (Brazil), Madala Kunene, and late musicians Sipho Gumede, Busi Mhlongo and Jabu Khanyile.

Ntuli has come a long way with his music since 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 the chips were down, he would go for days without a meal. Having worked for various publications, Ntuli is a rare and unique kind of musician who possesses many years of experience in marketing and media. Before engaging in music fulltime, he was employed as a sales promotions manager for a long-established national daily newspaper, Sowetan. He also holds a modelling diploma obtained in 1983 from Sexy Katz Modelling School in Bree Street Arcade in Johannesburg.

The 16th Isicathamiya High Schools Competition is sponsored by Durban Metro Municipality, organized and managed by DBD Entertainment.

For more information, interested schools must phone 073 301 6740 between 09h00 and 17h00.