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Sunday, June 24, 2018


(DBD frontman, Chris Ntuli, with Girls Isicathamiya Choir from Lamontville High, in Durban who will participate in the 16th High Schools Isicathamiya Choirs)

Durban Black Drifters (DBD) is busy with the Isicathamiya workshop in a tour which will see them visit 50 Durban Metro-based high schools. Amongst the places in their list are Umlazi, KwaMashu, Inanda, Hammarsdale, and Umbumbulu, to name but a few. The group is conducting workshops in preparation for the 16th High Schools Isicathamiya Choirs to be held at the Playhouse on September 28, 2018.

“Drifters are on a mission to attract more girls choirs, of which we are targeting 10. We have already found three, such as the Lamontville Girls High Isicathamiya Group. For years, women have been part and parcel of this music genre, as always witnessed at YMCA and Playhouse Isicathamiya competitions,” says Durban Black Drifters frontman, Chris Ntuli,

Only 50 Durban Metro Municipal based will participate in this year’s event. Schools will be competing for R50,000, trophies and certificates. 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 and entrance fees 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 the 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, newly-formed Ngcolosi Home Boys of Botha’s Hill, 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 as it seeks to preserve, promote, educate and develop this genre at grassroots level so that the music can stay for generations.

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 the 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 little help from a friend, Msizi Shabalala. He further appeared with Mambazo on the King Cetshwayo’ musical play, written and directed by Prince Njengabantu Zulu who had just come 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.

He has come a long 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 the Point area 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, Chris Ntuli is a rare and unique kind of musician who possesses many years of experience in marketing and media. Before engaging in music full-time, 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 will be held at the Playhouse at 10h00 on September 28, 2018, and is sponsored by Durban Metro Municipality, organized and managed by DBD Entertainment.

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