Deni ditches corporate job for music

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Deni loved working in marketing but knew music was her calling.
Deni loved working in marketing but knew music was her calling.

She can play the piano and violin but her favourite instrument is her voice. And she used it quite well in her song, Pèpè, which is a hit.

Afrobeat singer Nomndeni “Deni” Nkabinde (31) says it was only a matter of time before she fully pursued a professional career in music.

She's always loved music, even she was working in corporate. 

She began her musical training at the age of 12 years in her hometown Mahikeng in the North West, learning to play instruments such as the piano and violin.

By the end of high school, she had played in an orchestra and completed her training at the Trinity University in London in classical singing.

“During my school holidays I would visit relatives and put on little shows, asking them to pay to see me perform,” Deni says.

“I’m a classically trained singer and I enjoy using the techniques and discipline I learned in my training to create the music I am making now,” Deni says.

As a child, she was very adventurous and curious about the world.

“These are qualities that I still possess as an adult. Growing up I tried everything that was in my reach, I’ve played in an orchestra, sang in the choir, travelled as an exchange student to Germany, and have had opportunities and experiences that allowed me to broaden my perspective on life and the world, which I’m really grateful for,” Deni adds.

Looking back it is clear where her love for music comes from. 

“It wasn’t till I was 18 and I was completing my final Grade 8 exam in classical singing when one of the teachers who was watching started crying as I performed. It was at that moment that I truly understood and felt that I had a gift that could touch and inspire people. At its core, that is what I believe music should always be about,” Deni says.

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She has fond memories of her hometown on Mafikeng.

“I grew up speaking Setswana and English, at school I learned German and during my undergraduate degree, I took French as an elective. I’m not fluent but I try to speak and learn as much as I can when I am around people who speak the languages. She has travelled to all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. 

“Just before the pandemic hit, I travelled to Ghana which at the moment is my favourite. But Mafikeng will always have a special place in my heart. It is a small town, there is a strong sense of community, everyone knows each other even though you have never met. A lot of amazing talent has come from Mahikeng as well which is both inspiring and admirable,” Deni says.

Music runs in the family. Her brother Sungula Nkabinde know as ‘Sun G wa Lefika’ is a part of a Motswako Rap trio called ‘Hash One’. 

“Music has always been a big part of my life and I have always known that at some point I would get involved in either the business behind the music or the music itself and now I am doing both,” Deni says.

Her sound is Afrobeat infused with R&B.

“My music is a combination of different styles that I enjoy listening to, including Reggae, Afro-beat, R&B, and soul. My music is inspired by my experiences and my travels around the world which has resulted in a dynamic and individual sound,” she says.

Her favourite part of the music-making process is writing.

“I love to write my music. My topics are driven by my experiences growing up, the growing pains, the lessons learned, my outlook on the world, and the way I feel. In a lot of ways, my music is a personal triumph. I want these stories to resonate and connect with people on a deeper level,” Deni says.

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Deni spent many years in corporate working in marketing and music was always a hobby. After completing her postgraduate degree in Marketing and Communications, she decided to leave the cooperate world to pursue her musical passions. 

“I tried to suppress the love for music and treat it as a hobby, but it is clear that this is my calling and where I am supposed to be,” Deni says.

“Leaving the comfortable world of corporate has not been easy, but it is worth the sacrifice.”

In 2019, she began working on her own album and her debut single Pèpè is her first solo release in a series of music coming out this year. Deni’s music is a fusion of her South African roots and love for the African culture, she says. 

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