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Thursday, February 13, 2020


(DBD frontman, Chris Ntuli, from left, presenting a cheque of R15,000 to Nqabakazulu High School Isicathamiya choir in Kwamashu, Durban, which they won in 2018, but could not be handed over because of technical issues, with their teacher far right, Mr BR Mbele, looking on.)

Durban’s famous and veteran Isicathamiya outfit, Durban Black Drifters, will be embarking on a Isicathamiya workshop project to all Durban Metro-based high schools. The group leader, Chris Ntuli, is calling on all high schools to register for the workshop in preparation for the forthcoming 18th High Schools Isicathamiya Music Choir Competition, sponsored by Ethekwini Municipality, to be held at the Playhouse on May 8, 2020.
All schools should register as soon as possible as there are only 50 choirs needed for this song and dance event.
There are huge cash prizes and trophies to be won. SABC/Ukhozi FM presenter, Thanda Ndlovu, will compere this show for the second time. 
Meanwhile, Ntuli is fed up with people condescending upon him and undermining all the work he has done which started long before independence in 1990 when it was first conceptualized. “There was no-one talking about teaching this music genre in schools. DBD knowledge and skills transferred to over 2000 schools in 28 years and collection in archives is so immense that no-one has got it. The 18th Isicathamiya High Schools Music 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,” he says.
“The fact is, Durban Black Drifters are the founders and remain the sole proprietors of Isicathamiya Music Schools Workshop project, including the 18th Isicathamiya High Schools Music Choir Competition (started in 1999, which is a direct result of this programme), and soon to be launched High Schools Isicathamiya Music TV show. Durban Black Drifters and Playhouse Company, under the leadership of Linda Bukhosini, are leaders in promoting and developing Isicathamiya music in South Africa, and that’s the fact. Late last year, Ntuli’s schools workshop programme graced the screens of CNN, one of the biggest American global news channels, aired for days and watched by millions in over 200 countries. Durban Black Drifters has just completed recording their forthcoming album entitled Ubude Abuphangwa,” Ntuli continues. 
Started in 1992 as a workshop project by Durban Black Drifters, the event has established and transferred skills to over 2000 school groups. Other artists the project have 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 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 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 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.
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 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, 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 17th High Schools Isicathamiya Choir Summit is presented with the support of National Lotteries Commission, Playhouse Company, organised and managed by DBD Entertainment. 
All interested schools should contact Chris Ntuli on 073 301 6740.