NOT many South African gospel musicians are brave enough to take this genre to another level. Many prefer the usual sound to the listener’s ear; the sound that was, has been and currently working. Ntokozo is changing things around, not only with her distinct spiritual sound, but she’s bringing back a greater element to gospel. Her style and sound is one that touches one’s body, soul and their very being. The 22-year old brings you closer to relationships. Her music leaves one with a feeling of soul searching, looking into one’s relationship with God, friends, family and a relationship with oneself. This, she does through her musical deliverance where she selflessly exposes her own relationships, but most prominently, hers with her God.
Her live DVD and CD recording was done live to an audience of her family, church members, leaders and fans from her yesteryears as a young 14-year old church choir member. Ntokozo definitely sets the stage on fire as she creates a space where gospel music manifests itself as a not just for the “Holier-than-though”, but a reality that we are all God’s children and that we should not be afraid to come to Him in our nakedness. Mbambo’s music is deep, insightful and yet catchy. It is not only for saved Christians, but it is for all that are weak, hopeless and needy, as it strengthens, gives hopes and feeds one’s soul.
Born in Umlazi, South of Durban, Ntokozo had her first experience with gospel music at the tender age when she did a back track on her mother’s song at church. All this may sound like a cliché but Ntokozo is from a musical family as her parents sang in a group with the man that discovered her, Mthunzi Namba. At High School she started learning the piano. The Umlazi Oasis Fellowship Centre born-again youth joined her aunts and other church members in the congregation’s choir. The group auditioned and made it through for Joyous Celebration for the 1994-1995 season, but for some reason they never joined the institution. She now sees this as a blessing in disguise as it helped give her time to grow, physically, mentally and spiritually in her faith.
After a moving performance at Namba’s mother’s funeral, she received a call from Namba requesting her to feature in his first album, ‘Let It Rain”, with the very song she rendered at the funeral titled “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”. In 2000 she received a call to join Joyous Celebration 6, where she made her mark with her debut “Esiphambanweni”. At the time she was only 15 which posed a challenge for her as she was still at school. This meant travelling mid-week from Durban to Johannesburg for rehearsals and performances all over the country. Gospel is all she knows, all she wants and it is her life. It is not just about fulfilling her dreams or entertaining the masses, for her, it is one way she worships and connects with her God. She has not turned a blind eye to her age and her peers, which is why she has ensured that her sound has a flavour that will appeal across the board. In Joyous Celebration 7, she further on put her signature stamp with the track “I love the Lord”.
In 2002 she released her first album “Bambelela”, to which she admits that she was not comfortable with, as she enjoys live performances, so the studio limited her, her abilities and her greatest gift of connecting with her audiences. She went on to grooming herself in Joyous Celebration 8, where she didn’t fail her fans with the track “Jesus, at the Mention of Your Name”. “Jesus Lover of My Soul”, was the song she made her presence felt in Joyous Celebration 9. In the latest Joyous Celebration 10, she swept most off their feet with “My Blessing”. As she had to grow up before her time with the abnormal teenage years, she thanks her parents greatly for their support and guidance. But one thing that kept her rooted and grounded in what was right, was the Word and Prayer. “I don’t sing but God ministers his Word through me for His people”, says the University of KZN, BA Music 2nd Year student. The 15-track album has songs she wrote and had a hand in it being ut together.
Her music is about her experiences growing up. She’s sharing these experiences and is singing from her heart. The young lady has not only been a part of Joyous Celebration, but she has opened for US artists, such as Yolanda Adams on her 2005 Johannesburg and Cape Town Tour. She describes the experience as “scary and yet exciting”. As hectic as her schedule can be, she still sings with her church and is an active member of her church’s “Praise & Worship” Team. The young artist worked with renowned music extraodinaire Lindelani Mkhize, who is the executive producer of the CD and DVD. “She is rare talent and she is one artist that needs careful attention with her craft to ensure that her talent is not misplaced,” says LME boss. Ntokozo’s artwork and deliverance will definitely lift you, as she features her personal and music friend, Hlengiwe Mhlaba in the tracks titled “The Blood of Jesus” and “Alisoze Lahelamandla”.
You will be moved by tracks like “Breath on Me”, with its African jazz feel. You will be healed spiritually by melodic “Healer”, your feet are sure to be stepping to the upbeat “Hallelujah”. “The Holly Medley” and “Ububele Bakhe”, takes you back to Ntokozo’s trademark, that of praise and worship. The album is definitely made for the ear, the heart, soul and for true revival