From orphan to performing at jazz festival

PHOTO: suppliedNdumiso Phungula will be part of the line-up at the Ugu Jazz Festival this year.
PHOTO: suppliedNdumiso Phungula will be part of the line-up at the Ugu Jazz Festival this year.

NDUMISO Phungula was orphaned at a young age, but says because of the love and support his maternal grandparents gave him, he never felt like an orphan.

“My mother died when I was seven and my father followed when I was 11, but the love that my grandparents gave me, I sometimes felt like I was even more privileged than those who had parents,” said Phungula

Now this young man, Afro-jazz gospel musician, Phungula will perform at the Ugu Jazz Festival’s “local hour” this year.

Phungula says he discovered his musical talent at the age of 10 after singing at his grandmother’s funeral.

“I come from a very musical family. In fact, back then my family had their own music group which I joined after my performance at the funeral and I was so good I ended up leading the group.”

After many performances with the group, Phungula broke away and formed his own group, with his peers performing in other areas in Pietermaritzburg, where he was born. It was during his performances in various churches that Phungula was discovered by Durban comedian Sbu Shangase, who encouraged him to record a demo and move to Durban in 2009.

With his best supporter, his maternal grandmother Sphembile Phungula, by his side Phungula found himself exposed to the in and outs of the music business in Durban.

In 2013 Phungula entered the “I want to sing Gospel” competition and made it to the top five in the KwaZulu-Natal auditions, which were televised.

“After I was eliminated I decided to take a break from pursuing music and focus on other things,” said Phungula.

He then chose to study, however, the music bug would not leave him as he constantly received invitations to sing in church choirs and other events in Durban.

“I sang in the Jesus Acts of Grace Church led by Pastor Mlungisi Dlamini and when I told him I wanted to focus on my studies he offered me a bursary to study at the Abafundi Institute of Health and Technology College in Port Shesptone, which he owns.”

He moved to Port Shesptone in 2015 to continue studying, however, as a music lover he joined local musical groups.

“While performing at an event hosted by Dlamini I met motivational speaker Nkosi da King Phungula. We connected because of the same surname and I expressed my interest in getting involved in the local music scene.

“Nkosi got me in touch with Margate Museum curator Siya Sotsu who took me under his wing and helped me grow my brand in the music industry.”

After a decade-long career singing gospel music, Phungula says it was while on the South Coast that he discovered his true sound and shifted to Afro-jazz gospel.

“I had been singing gospel all my life because that is the type of environment I was raised in, but after joining Esteem Techno Media Arts I found myself and where I wanted to go with my music.”

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