Vusi Nova on his heartbreak , hijacking and new album

Vusi Nova. (Photo: Rowyn Lombard for DRUM)
Vusi Nova. (Photo: Rowyn Lombard for DRUM)

A broken heart, a health scare that landed him in hospital, being hijacked . . . So much has happened to Vusi Nova in the past year and he’s dealing with it the best way he knows how: through music.

Vusi’s emotional roller coaster can be felt throughout his new album, Manyan- Nyan, where he pays tribute to music legends who died recently. He also talks about love, and healing from heartbreak, and the album’s message is clear: nothing will keep him down.

It’s been just over a year since the Port Elizabeth-born singer and one of his 047 bandmates were hijacked and kidnapped in Joburg outside Vusi’s Melville home on their way back from the launch party for Ntando’s new album (My night of terror, 7 September 2017). He’s had to learn to move on, Vusi (33)tells DRUM. 

“I just had to get over it. I didn’t even go for counselling. I just had to tell myself that just because thisHappened it doesn’t mean it will happen all the time. I put it down to it being a crazy day, it happened and, hopefully, it won’t happen again,” he says.

The whole experience taught him a few life lessons and the biggest was to be more cautious. He’s hired a security guard and got a dog for extra protection.

“I got someone to work as a security guard because I was freaking out,” he tells us. 

“Whenever I would drive up my street I would have so much anxiety. I even still find myself, now and again, freaking out.”

And the fact no one has been arrested makes him even more anxious. “It angers me because there are people out there who invaded my space, took me with them, threatened to kill me and there has been no punishment,” he says.

Police are still working on it, he’s been told. The traumatic experience has also left a few invisible scars. He’s now selective about the people he allows in his circle even though he’s never really been one for big crowds of friends.

“I love my space so I constantly have people who I trust around me like 047, Zahara and Somizi.” 

He doesn’t want to reveal too much about the breakup he mentions on Manyan- Nyan (The Truth).

No one cheated though, he tells us that much. Would he go back to the relationship, given the chance? “No,” Vusi says firmly.

“There’s no time to look back, I’m done with that. Even though the love is still there. You can’t be with someone for five-and-a-half years and just like that you move on. You can’t. It’s impossible. I’m still going through it, but one thing I’m clear about is I’m not going back. Never.”

He’s been single for two years and has tried to dip his toe back into the dating pool.

“I dated two people but it didn’t work out. I’m not sure if I’m comparing these people to my past relationship. So I’m single but I’m optimistic.”

He still very much believes in love, Vusi says.

“Even though I have gone through this rollercoaster in terms of my romantic relationship I still believe in love. I just dusted myself off and I’m moving forward.”

Then he goes back to talking about the love of his life: music.

He’s been singing since he was a child, he says. He used to perform, sing and model in school and church in his hometown of New Brighton, Port Elizabeth.

“My earliest memories are of me sitting on my grandmother’s lap and singing inchurch,” he recalls.He uses his life experiences in his music, which is why he’s successful, Vusi believes. His previousalbum, released in 2016, just reached double platinum and he’s hoping fans will help his new offeringreach the same status.

“People like that I’m honest and they can relate to it,” he says.“These things aren’t unique to me, heartbreak is not unique to me, falling in love is not unique to me, it’s things that everyday people go through.” 

After the year he’s had, he’s learnt to be frank about his feelings. This is why he’s been fighting against “fakeness” in the entertainment industry.

His new album features artists such as Zahara, Kelly Khumalo, Bongani Radebe and his boy band 047 to foster unity with musicians, the R&B singer says.

“There’s a lot of fakeness, where we meet one another and we greet and chat but when you go around the corner the person is like whatever,” he says.

He wants to create a culture of collaboration.“They [hip-hop artists] feature and collaborate with one another quite well but it’s funny that in our genre there’s so much ego and I don’t get why. Because isn’t the whole point about giving people the music?”

He’s so tired of the fakeness he’s even recorded a song featuring Zahara dedicated to “all the haters”. Usezondibona has been in the works for two years, he says. 

“The chorus was done two years ago and I remember we were sitting at her house.“My brother [actor Sisa Hewana] and Phila Madlingozi were there and we were just chilling and talkingabout this topic. How people were fake and why people do these things, and then I started playingthe guitar and she [Zahara] was singing and we said we would do the song.”

He also worked with Kelly on a track, Zungandithembi, as a tribute to their long-running friendship. “She was one of the people who helped me when I first started out and I met my first producer (Bheki Nqoko) through her.”

“I knew her way before I started singing. She’s always been a good friend and people call us vocal music royalty – His and Her Highness, which is nice.”He wants to help other young artists rise. 

“I love helping people,” he says. “I think that stems from when I started off. No one was there to hold my hand. I feel if someone had helped me at age 17 or 18, I would have been really far right now.”

Helping others “feels so good,” he says. Everyone should try it.

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