South African Cultural Observatory

Gifted Thandi Ntuli performs in the US

BY 30.08.19

Thandi Ntuli could be described as one of the few young musicians barking the trend with her talent and love for the genre of music that is jazz. This is genre that is not so popular with young artists.

The multi-award winning young jazz pianist and vocalist who is currently in the US, earlier this month performed at The Ford Theatre in LA in celebration of SA Women’s’ Day, and at The Lincoln Centre in New York celebrating 25 Years of South Africa’s Democracy. The performance was at the invitation of The Nonsemble.

Together with Siya Makuzeni, the two musicians were hosted by actor, activist and music lover Don Cheadle who is a co-founder of The Nonsemble. The LA-based organisation “is dedicated to fostering the continued growth of jazz and its estimable legacy as America’s indigenous music”. It was co-founded by Cheadle and Jason Sugars. 

Most recently before heading to the US, Ntuli concluded a 3-month Artist Residency in Switzerland, courtesy of Pro Helvetia. According to the Swiss Arts Council, “for her studio residency, she explored writing her new project, ‘Sketches of Mali’, referencing Mile Davis’ Sketches of Spain, the music of Mali, interwoven with her own compositional voice. A ‘heritage driven’ project, she delved into that which is representative of what she perceives to be her experience in the world at present”.

Commenting on the residency, Ntuli said “my hope ‘was’ to work with a Swiss arranger who, coupled with my ideas of composition and arrangements, ‘would’ help bring the balance of both worlds,”

Since the release of her debut jazz album, ‘The Offering’ in 2014 (released independently), Ntuli has made an indelible mark in the local jazz scene with her unique voice. 

In 2018 she was named a Standard Bank Young Artist for jazz and also released her second album titled Exiled’ in the same year.

Commenting on the invitation of both Ntuli and Makuzeni, Cheadle and Sugars said: “The mission and vision of The Nonsemble is finding connective tissue and building bridges between people, generations and cultures using music -- specifically sharing the American-born art, culture, life and style known as jazz. Bringing out these two incredibly gifted young artists from South Africa to showcase their very personal take on jazz seems a near-perfect first presentation of The Nonsemble’s arts and culture ambassadorship.

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