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Friday, March 22, 2019


(Founder of Durban Black Drifters, Chris Ntuli, 
with the choir from Lamontville High School)

Durban Black Drifters will host the 17th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Summit to be held at the Playhouse Opera on Friday, May 10, 2019 at 10h00.

Only 50 schools are expected to participate in this song and dance music event. Huge cash prizes totalling R50,000 and trophies are up for grabs. The 1st prize is R25,000, 2nd prize is R15,000 and 3rd prize is R10,000. SABC, former Ukhozi FM’s Joe Hudla will compere this show for the 12th time, while Eric ‘’Coolfire’’ Hadebe will rekindle ancestors with the burning of impepho (incense) during the opening of this show. Entertainment will then be provided by Ngcolosi Home Boys and Madala Kunene.

The invite list includes Ukhozi FM’s Thanda Ndlovu, Lucky Nkosi, Dr T Biyela, Juba Special and top government officials. The 17th Isicathamiya High Schools Choir Competition 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.

Durban Black Drifters is the only Isicathamiya group that teaches this music in schools since 1992. Communities, students and teachers are warned never to be confused by opportunists who are now purporting to be teaching this genre to schools. The fact is, for the past 28 years, Durban Black Drifters are the founders, officially registered and remain sole proprietors of Isicathamiya Schools Workshops project, including the 17th High Schools Isicathamiya Choirs started in 1999, which is a direct result of this programme. Furthermore, the project strives to shape and guide these young people to be better citizens who’ll be respectful, competent, reliable, efficient, self-reliant, embracing and upholding their culture when they leave school.

Started in 1992 as a workshop project by Durban Black Drifters, the event has established and transferred skills to over 2,000 school groups. Other artists the project has produced are Ngcolosi Home Boys from Botha’s Hill, Abafana Basentembeni from Melmoth; Mpumalanga White Birds from Hammarsdale and Uglama kaMaskandi from Pietermaritzburg; to name but a few. 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 King Cetshwayo’ musical play, written and directed by Prince Njengabantu Zulu who had just returned from exile in America in 1994. The others he has recorded with include Aerto Moreira (Brazil), Madala Kunene, and all 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 the 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 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.

Ntuli boasts huge experience in music mixing and mastering gained from working extensively under the leadership and guidance of Joseph Shabalala and award-winning engineer, Neil Snyman. He also recorded and produced the first Isicathamiya compilation CD released under Universal Music label, featuring 17 Durban-based veteran Isicathamiya groups in 2010. The 17th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Summit is presented with the compliments of National Lotteries Commission, Playhouse Company, and organized and managed by DBD Entertainment.

Entrance is free and people attending this event should dress formal, smart casual or traditional. Weapons, bottles, drugs, alcohol, bags, suitcases and students without school uniform are all not allowed. All interested schools are urged to register now by sending an SMS with the word ‘’Yes’’, their school name, place and contact person to 073 301 6740 (available 24/7). Previous DVD’s will be available for sale at R150 a copy.

The 17th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Summit to be held at 10h00 on Friday, May 10, 2019, in the Playhouse Opera.