UKZN alumni are making inroads in just about every field imaginable – from captains of industry such as international hotelier Sol Kerzner to cricket’s Jonty Rhodes.
NdabaOnline’s Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer interviewed UKZN Jazz graduate, pianist, performer, arranger, educator and composer, Lindi Ngonelo, who holds a Bachelor of Practical Music (B. Prac. Mus), and is doing her Bachelor of Music Honours (B. Mus. Hons) at the University of Pretoria:
How old were you when you took up music?
I started playing piano at the age of 12 when my parents formed a church. I began with classical piano but I was not entirely fulfilled. I then met Nicholas Engel who introduced me to gospel and jazz and throughout my high school years he was my keyboard teacher.
What instruments do you play and what genre of music are you drawn to?
I play piano. I’m very drawn to jazz, however I do enjoy other genres such as contemporary gospel, soulful house and hip hop.
You have received accolades from the music industry. Tell us about that.
Being part of Heels Over Head allowed me the opportunity to experience a lot of exciting things – having the group nominated for a SAMA in 2011 was one of the most memorable things I have experienced.
Music is seen as a challenging career because so few people make it in the industry. So what are your top tips for success?
Hard work, discipline and perseverance are key aspects to making it in the music industry. It also helps to be humble as more people will want to work with you. Nobody wants to work with someone who is rude and stuck up. Also, it’s not a good idea to stick to one style of music. The more you know, the more you grow and the more versatile you become.
You head up the LindiNgonelo Quintet – tell us about the group.
I formed the quintet in 2013 after feeling the need to gather musicians who understand me and my ideas and would be able to execute them accordingly. I also appreciate their contributions to my music. I am an avid arranger and I put this aspect of being a musician to good use in my quintet when arranging standards or covers.
You studied at UKZN – how has this prepared you for the world of music?
Being able to ask my lecturers about pretty much anything regarding the music industry has been a great advantage as it gives one an idea of what to expect in the real world. I have also found that a large portion of what I learned in varsity is becoming more and more useful by the day, especially since I am also a music teacher. All the music theory I learned then is helping me with the kids I teach now.
Teaching aspiring musicians at the East Rand School of Arts must be very interesting! What inspired you to get into education?
As cliched as it may sound, I am of the belief that knowledge is power. The more equipped with knowledge one is, the more powerful you become. Imparting knowledge to upcoming musicians and contributing to their growth is a fulfilling feeling.
Which song gets the crowds on their feet?
If we are talking covers, I would have to say Salif Keita’s “Africa”. If you are referring to one of my compositions, I will soon be performing some of my new material which has some upbeat tunes.
Who inspires you?
I have so many forms of inspiration. The life God has blessed me with is a daily inspiration, then there’s my parents, my family, my friends, my profession, and my pupils. I am also inspired and highly motivated by musicians whose work has influenced me. At the top of the list I would place Mr Themba Mkhize and the late Mr George Duke immediately after, although there are many others.
Where can we listen to your music – iTunes, YouTube, do you have a CD?
I do not yet have an album out but do watch this space. However, I have a channel on Soundcloud (Lindz_Keyano) as well as on YouTube (Lindi Ngonelo). People can listen to and check out some videos on these platforms.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to travel the world extensively with my quintet, release a few albums, and perform with all the great musos I look up to and admire. I think my long term goal would be to be a university lecturer in Jazz Performance.
Check Ngonelo out on social media: Facebook: Lindz Key-ano Ngonelo; Twitter: lindzngonelo; Instagram: lindz_keyano; YouTube: Lindi Ngonelo, and Soundcloud: Lindz_Keyano.