Gospel star has Guild on its feet

An appreciative audience were on their feet participating in Simthembile Nkunzi’s praise and worship songs that were performed during his live CD and DVD recording at the Guild Theatre on Saturday evening.
An appreciative audience were on their feet participating in Simthembile Nkunzi’s praise and worship songs that were performed during his live CD and DVD recording at the Guild Theatre on Saturday evening.
Image: Sino Majangaza

Now, this is not to take anything away from the annual National Arts Festival currently underway in this province.

However, on Saturday you had only to drive about two hours from Grahamstown to an event which, in my view, had even deeper meaning for this province that is home to many of us now spread across the country.

Staged at the Guild Theatre in East London, Simthembile Nkunzi’s A Song in My Heart, was a gospel show scheduled to last, at the most, two hours with a 15 minute break.

But it went on from 7pm until midnight because the audience kept asking for more .

It was also designed for Simthembile to record his first gospel album.

Simthembile, a local church worship team leader with roots in Mount Fletcher, found himself, as he put it, “having to offer his followers a gospel album”.

Cutting a gospel album was something that had never made it onto his list of childhood dreams.

Sharing the song in his heart had simply been his way of saying thank you – to his creator. But the calls for an album continued to come.

Now someone who is not a full-time musician does not ordinarily have the opportunity to just go in and out of a studio to record. But a means had to be found.

A live recording was deemed to be the best way – and indeed it was.

I happened to be in the Eastern Cape over the weekend, having attended a leadership conference during the week.

On Saturday I made my way to the Guild and, arriving a little late, was pleasantly surprised to see cars filling the whole venue parking lot.

As I ran to the door, I found people outside who wanted tickets but couldn’t get any as they were sold out.

Going inside, the auditorium was filled to capacity.

That, right there, is a sign of how expectant and supportive people of the province can be. When they recognise homegrown talent they show up to appreciate what they have.

Notably, while this show was Simtembile’s own live recording, he selflessly featured various artists who originate from the province, giving the event a festival feel.

And it was another demonstration of the amazing talent that the Eastern Cape continues to offer South Africa through the music industry.

Each of the musicians more than delivered to the audience with varied yet distinct sounds, rhythm and lots of personality. Putuma Tiso from Port Elizabeth, Unathi Mzekeli from East London, Zipho Vena from King William’s Town, and Babalwa Mbuku from Mthatha were just examples of the talent featured in the show.

The audience marvelled at the occasion and we were constantly on our feet.

The show also spoke volumes about the excellence of the production team and another music talent was evident in the musical director, Gugu Mbuku.

What a well put together evening of praise and worship – from the stage lighting to the crystal clear sound – everything was top notch.

I can’t wait for the final product, a DVD, as proof of how great this production was, not in Johannesburg, but right here in the Eastern Cape.

Judging just from Simthembile Nkunzi’s gospel music live recorded show, the Eastern Cape very clearly has a song to offer the country – and beyond its borders.

Many Eastern Capers are spread across the country making other parts look good.

This is fair enough.

Respect, however, is due to those at home who work tirelessly to showcase the capabilities within the province, including those who have gone and then come back.

Simthembile, through this world class live recording, falls into this category.

Ntando Yola is a health and human rights advocate and a co-founder of Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and Aids based in Cape Town.

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