He has more than 20 years of experience on stage. He's one of the brains behind the much loved Joyous Celebration.
A man of many titles, he's a conductor, a talent scout, an executive producer and co-founder of the choir. He's just added a new title to it all, he's now Dr Lindelani Mkhize.
He was recently honoured with an honorary Doctor of Philosophy in Community Development from the University of Zulu Land, an accolade that came as a pleasant surprise to him.
He tells DRUM he's still overwhelmed. "But very much humbled and most of all very appreciative of what the university has done.”
He found out at the beginning of the year that his home province wanted to bestow him with this prestigious honour. But COVID-19 disrupted plans for this to happen in the first quarter of the year, so he got distracted and didn't put much thought to it.
“It started hitting home when the university started preparing for the ceremony and it actually hit me when I started driving there. I started asking questions about how this honour got to me.
"Then when I heard about the intense work that goes into the selection process, I was really overwhelmed and touched,” Dr Mkhize says.
This didn’t just happen overnight. He worked hard to get where he is and to those aspiring to reach goals and follow their passion, he says: “There are times where one will doubt if ‘it will really work’. We have all been there. Don’t abandon your dreams but know that the hard work comes with it. Don’t be afraid to work extra hours more than ordinarily.”
His contribution to the music industry is undeniable. The likes of Ntokozo Mbamo, Mahalia Buchanan, Nqubeko Mbatha, Sbu Noah, Puleng March, Brenda Mtambo, Khaya Mthethwa and others have all been discovered, nurtured and guided by him. The choir has won a long list of awards, topped charts, filled-up concert venue. In 2017, the choir was hosted at renowned Bishop T.D Jakes' church, The Potter’s House in the US among other memorable moments in the two decades of its existence.
“I am one of the people guilty of not reflecting and recognizing the work I have done. I have received awards and accolades before and to me it is one of the things, it is all part of my job and I just move on but this one made me reflect. I realise that yes it is true, I have done so much not in gospel but holistically in the country,” he adds. Dr Mkhize says this honour has challenged him to think about what he can do next to make a lasting change in music.
“I have worked on empowering and developing artists. But now I have to move to the next phase of that and that is getting the government and powers that be to realise that we are not just singing. This is one of the ways to create wealth and to contribute to the GDP because currently, they don’t see music as a business. They don’t see commerce in our heritage. I am going to be using this to turn things around,” he says.