Getting to know Lungi Naidoo

By Drum Digital
10 July 2014

For her first solo album in six years, Lungi pulled out all the stops, recruiting hotshot collaborators such as Brian Temba and rapper Proverb.

Rumours have done the rounds that she and Muvhango heartthrob and SAMA-winning crooner Brian Temba are an item, that they’re engaged and that a wedding is in the offing. And recently there’ve been whispers that the pair is expecting their firstborn.

“Brian and I expecting a baby?” she chuckles. “First they give me Brian and then they give me a baby. Maybe I need to lose weight. But no, I’m not expecting.”

For her first solo album in six years, Lungi pulled out all the stops, recruiting hotshot collaborators such as Brian Temba, Atlanta-based producer Jim LaBeaud, Hip Hop emcee Proverb and American guitar maestro the great Bobby G Gonzales who has worked with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Lionel Richie and The Temptations.

Like some young singers Lungi had been trying to break into the notoriously tough music industry, with no connections or famous family name to smooth the way. “There are gatekeepers who expect favours for pushing your music,” Lungi confides.

But a combination of determination and luck has favoured the farm girl from KwaDukuza (previously Stanger), in KZN where her NGO, The Lungi Foundation, now distributes food parcels, books and uniforms to 20 rural primary schools.

Lungi knew from a young age she would wind up as a professional singer. “I was born to do this,” she says. With fire in her belly she left Stanger for Jozi straight after matric to make her dream a reality. That was a little over 10 years ago.

"When I got here I lived in Hillbrow and started off with theatre gigs,” she says. “I was a singer at the Mardi Gras Theatre in Carnival City. I had been at Mardi Gras for about a year when I heard about the inaugural Coca Cola Popstars. I entered and made it to the top 12.”

Lungi Photo: Fani Mahuntsi

Soon she was working as a backing vocalist for professionals such as Loyiso Bala and the late Lebo Mathosa. She released her self-titled debut album in 2007 after meeting producer Alexis Faku, whom she credits with moulding her as an artist. I Am saw the light in October 2013, crowning her first decade in the music industry.

“The album has given me the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing talent including Brian and Maskandi maestro Ihashi Elimhlophe,” she says. But the collaboration with Gonzales was completely unexpected.

“It’s amazing what the internet can do for you these days,” she reflects, relating the circumstances around her first meeting with the American star. “He chanced upon my music on Reverbnation (a website for the independent music industry) and sent me a direct message on Facebook, expressing his interest in my work. Then he phoned me… and I started to Google him and, yo! I was so shocked when I saw his credentials.

“So we started Skyping and we sent him files of “Love”, which is the single off “I Am”.  Bobby plays the Spanish guitar on that song.”

It was her songwriting that first brought her and Brian together. “I wrote him a gospel song called “Themba Lam”. That was how I got him to work on my album – because I wrote for him.”

What about romance? “I don’t talk about that,” she says. “The time will come for that. But if you have to have a quote, I’m in a very happy place. I am content with love. True love is about knowing to love yourself first before you can actually love someone else.”

What if that someone is the legendary Brian Temba? “Brian’s my friend,” she says. “We work very closely together. We are very close. He’s my boy.”

By: Mpho Tshikhudo

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