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Sunday, October 15, 2023



The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music proudly presents The Piano Passion featuring alumni Sibonelo Nxumalo, Nhlakanipho Zulu and Zibusiso Makhathini on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, at 17h30.


Sibonelo Nxumalo (pictured above. Photo supplied)

Sibonelo Nxumalo is a skilful and dedicated South African pianist based in Durban. In high school, he fell in love with music and started playing in churches. He initially came to the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) to study law. However, one day he woke up to the realization that his passion was music and convinced his parents to allow him to pursue that instead of the law. He enrolled at the Durban Music School to study piano, and while preparing for an exciting school year, he got lured to audition for a sponsored music programme at The BAT Centre. The decision to join The BAT Centre proved to be a career-defining one as it was where he was introduced to the jazz genre by Xolani Hlongwa. He later got accepted at the UKZN’s Music School, where he completed a music degree. His dedication to anything he finds himself doing was apparent even at the university when he started collecting several merits annually.

Nxumalo is known for sensitivity and his unique approach to performance. He recently served as the music director of Zawadi Ya Mungu’s The Past Meets the Future music concert at the Playhouse. He has also directed and co-directed many career-changing productions, including Glen Jones’ All For You South African Tour, Howard Hewett’s Soul Meets House South African Tour, Alexander O’Neil’s South African Tour, and many others. His achievements include Best Performance of an up-tempo Jazz ballad piece in 1st round - UNISA Piano Competition. Best Performance of a Jazz South African work - UNISA Piano Competition ’23.


Nhlakanipho Zulu (pictured left. Photo supplied)

Also on the bill is Nhlakanipho Zulu, a Durban-based professional jazz pianist. He has performed at the South African Crown Gospel Awards and is currently the pianist for Mondli Ngcobo, a recording artist and producer. His most recent projects include working with and playing second keys for the legendary Themba Mkhize at the BAT Centre. He was born in Port Shepstone, Gamalakhe, where he started his music career in church. During his high school years at Gamalakhe Commercial High School, he learned to play organ, classical and jazz piano under the mentorship and expert guidance of the great Andile Yenana. This childhood experience shaped his musical journey, leading him to play in various events in his hometown as a teenager.

In 2018, Zulu enrolled in the music school at UKZN to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Music Studies with a major in Jazz. Following his tertiary education, he relocated to Durban to pursue a professional career. He was in the cast of The Manhattans' event in Johannesburg, where he played second keys. He has also performed for well-known South African Gospel artists such as Nqubeko Mbatha, Ayanda Ntanzi, and Ndu Shezi, among others. He was hired as the musical director for a jazz single released in February, 2023.


Zibusiso Makhathini (pictured left. Photo supplied)

Zibusiso Makhathini is a South African jazz pianist, composer and music tutor born and raised in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal. Music became an inherent attribute that stood out during his primary and high school years, having grown up in a musical family. It influenced him to pursue music as a career by obtaining a music degree here at the UKZN. Currently, he teaches jazz piano and ensemble at the Durban High School. Zibusiso was one of the headlining acts at the KZN Schools Jazz Festival and was involved in the workshops preceding the festival. He had the opportunity to perform at the Oslo Jazz Festival at Herr Nelson and the Buzz Stage. He was also selected for the Standard Bank Youth Jazz Band, which performed at the Makhanda Jazz Festival and the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz.

Makhathini was profiled and featured as an artist on InsiderSA, a national television programme, under the segment Defying the Norm for a project that premiered at the National Arts Festival. He has also recorded live shows with various artists from his community. He has featured some of his music in a film called Glasgow, Love and Apartheid for BBC Scotland. He had the opportunity to be the resident pianist at the UKZN Peace Concert for International Jazz Day and the pianist at the Royal Gala Dinner for King Misuzulu’s coronation.


The concert takes place on October 18, 2023. Doors open at 17h00. Music starts at 17h30

Tickets R100 (R70 pensioners and R40 students) booked through email:

The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music is situated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College Campus, Dennis Shepstone Building, level 2