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Wednesday, August 1, 2018


(Dr Brian Thusi)

Family announces the tragic death of Dr Nhlanhla Brian Thusi.

"It is with deep sadness that the Thusi family announces the passing away of its loving father, Dr Nhlanhla Brian Thusi. Dr Thusi passed away from kidney failure at St. Augustine’s Hospital, Durban at 22h00 on July 31, 2018. He had been admitted the previous day after complications from a routine dialysis," says family spokesperson, Vukani Mbhele

Brian Thusi was born in Umlazi, south of Durban, in 1952. He started playing brass instruments at the age of 10, taught by his late father, who was a minister of religion and was based in Port Elizabeth at the time. Thusi performed with many local youth brass ensembles. He was introduced to jazz by the late Mr SD Ngcobo, who was the principal of Ohlange High School, Inanda, north of Durban, at the time. He identified jazz talent in him. He played trumpet for the school jazz group. He played trumpet, flugel horn, trombone, harmonica and sang efficiently.

Thusi, Khaya Mahlangu, Donald Diaz, Sipho Mvusi Seth Twala and GTX Xaba formed a school jazz band at Ohlange, which became very popular around Durban schools and jazz events.

He performed in the following countries as an artist/producer/manager: Australia, Nigeria, Namibia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Botswana, France, Germany, USA, Spain, England, Ghana, Mozambique, United Arab Emirates, Norway, Japan, Jamaica, Bahamas, and Wales.

He performed with KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, Namibia’s National Symphony Orchestra, Haringey Youth Orchestra (London) and North West Chamber Orchestra. He led the Natal University jazz band in Hanover World Expo 2000 Germany.

Thusi recorded and performed with some great artists such as Hotep Galleta, Mbongeni Ngema, Malcolm Braff, Mankunku Ngozi, Darius Brubeck, Victor Ntoni, Lulu Gontsana, Kenny Baron, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Caiphus Semenya, Hugh Masekela, Themba Mkhize, Sandile Shange, Sipho Gumede, to mention but a few.

He trained young South African brass musicians for Sydney Olympics 2000, who performed in the official opening of the Olympic Games with 2,000 other young musicians from all over the world.

He conducted international music workshops with Haringey (London) Youth Orchestra, including South African young musicians and the KZN Youth Orchestra. He also lectured music at the Durban Music School and at his church, The Salvation Army, to which he dedicated his whole life. He also imparted his knowledge to surrounding communities, free of charge, working with Non-Profit Organisations.

He co-produced his debut album, Future Talk, which was launched in 2009. In 2010, that recording was nominated for SAMA awards as the best traditional jazz album. He later recorded three albums, Future Talk, Bonga and Thokoza.

He had major achievements for his contribution to the South African community, some of which are:
-Winner of Durban Mayor’s Award for community builder in 2001
-Winner of National Youth Developer Award of the year - 2003
-Winner of Impact to the community Arts (Fools Award) Durban - 2005
-Founded a Music Centre for the historically disadvantaged youth of Durban and surrounding areas - 1986
-Chosen to compose music and conduct the Haringey Youth Orchestra (North London 2000 & 2001) and Oslo Youth Wind Ensemble (Norway (2002)
-Umlazi arts organization gave a lifetime musician award - 2014
-Acknowledged by BVSM as the lifetime trumpeter - 2015
-Produced recordings of international standard for professional musicians and amateurs for demo recordings and commercial purposes.

Thusi had the following degrees related to music: Bachelor of Music, Masters in Music Education and PhD in Arts, Culture and Heritage. He studied at the University of New Mexico, Washington University, University of Pretoria, University of Natal, University of Zululand, Durban University of Technology and North West University (Potchefstroom campus)

A scholar and lover of arts, he performed at Soul Jazz Festival in Richards Bay, on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, on July 28, sharing the platform with Chris Walker and Regina Belle, delivering a thrilling performance as always.

“On Monday, he went for his routine dialysis, but later developed complications. He was then admitted to hospital, although not showing signs of being seriously ill. The following day he was put on life support and sadly passed on.

“As a family, we find it hard to accept that he is gone. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and community builder. He was very passionate about developing young talent and loved his craft, as he spent most of his time perfecting his talents. He will be sorely missed for his carefree attitude, always cracking jokes. He loved people, always socialising easily with anyone, no matter what social status they occupied. Lala uphumule, Mfene, Mlotshwa!” says Vukani Mbhele.

Thusi is survived by his wife, Mrs Weziwe Thusi (KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development), his children Mongezi and wife Vuvu, Songezo, Bahla and husband Nkanyiso, his two brothers and three grandchildren.