Born in Soshanguve, Pretoria, 30-year-old Thandi Ntuli comes from a family with a rich musical heritage. Her uncle, Selby Ntuli, was a guitarist, pianist and vocalist, best known as founder and band leader of 1970s pop fusion band Harari (The Beaters).
Ntuli’s musical talent was nurtured from a young age, having started piano lessons under the tutelage of Ada Levkowitz at the age of 4. Her passion for jazz, however, was only ignited in high school, leading her to enroll in and complete a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at the University of Cape Town.
Her career so far has seen the young artist winning numerous accolades and awards, including the 2015 ImpACT Award for Music and Singing, was a semi-finalist in the highly competitive 2017 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships, and her 2014 debut album The Offering (which she released independently) garnered her critical acclaim and numerous awards, including a MetroFM Award nomination for Best Urban Jazz.
‘I’m very honoured to have the Standard Bank Young Artist Award,’ says Ntuli. ‘A lot of people whom I’ve looked up to have been recipients of this award in the past.’
On a very practical level, having finances for what you do, because most of the time you dream or do things within the parameters of what is available to you so it just opens up a little bit more opportunity
’It’s just very special to me, being recognised in the same way. I think it’s definitely going to push me to a different level of operating… it’s put me on a different level for myself in my own mind. We obviously don’t do what we do for recognition, but when you get it, it really changes your perspective of certain things. I don’t take it for granted that there’s still lots of people who probably haven’t heard my music, so I hope it’s going to open me up to more audiences. Also on a very practical level, having finances for what you do, because most of the time you dream or do things within the parameters of what is available to you so it just opens up a little bit more opportunity.’
Currently, Ntuli is working on her sophomore album, Exiled, to be released in the next few months and is working towards possibly touring abroad – ‘I think it’ll be really good for me to get a bit more exposure to an international market.’
Meet all of the #SBYA2018 award winners:
Chuma Sopotela (Performance Art) The future is too bright!
Guy Buttery (Music) A national treasure
Igshaan Adams (Visual Art) Achieving the unachievable
Jemma Kahn (Theatre) ’The box lady’
Musa Hlatshwayo (Dance) A social agent of change
Thandi Ntuli (Jazz) A different level of operating