This week Ntaka reflected on her journey in music as she prepared to embark on promoting the album produced by Nduduzo Makhathini.
After her two successful albums with EMI Records - Thembisile that produced the hit single Save Me, and the SAMA award-winning The Journey - the 35-year-old songbird says the decision to go solo did not come laced with honey or the expected support.
“That decision to leave the stable was really scary,” she says.
“My reality at that time was that I cannot be leaving the company, no matter how difficult it may seem, because I still did not have the connections.
“I still did not have the know-how as to who to contact and what to say to them to guarantee progress in my career.”
The talented musician with a bold voice says her love for music channelled her to bigger things in life. But even with such fear of failing weighing heavy on her heart, Ntaka believes she had to move on. She credits the strength to take those bold steps in her profession to her upbringing, coming from a poor background.
“I grew up in extremely difficult circumstances in Mpumalanga, Hammarsdale.
“My mother, the bread- winner in the house at that time, passed on when I was only 12, leaving me, my two sisters and my father who only had love to give us,” she recalls.
“Life became so strenuous that I had to take to cleaning houses at 14 years old. At age 15 I progressed to doing the laundry for my teachers in order to get extra money that would help us survive.”
It was at that time that her dream of being a musician came alive, regardless of her social worker aspirations.
“I never really grew up with a role model. People that I loved and looked up to were people I saw on TV. We never had anyone who was successful in the family whom I wanted to be like.
“People like Rebecca Malope, the late Miriam Makeba and Brenda Fassie became my inspirations and they motivated me to reach for my dreams.”
The dream led to her winning the Coca-Cola Popstars talent contest at age 21. Then she joined up with other musicians to form the popular group Adilah that released the hit song Ses’fikile in the early 2000s.
After that triumph over a life of no hope, the mother of three was determined to make music a lasting and successful career.
“What keeps me going through and through is knowing that I cannot go back to where I am from.
“There is nothing that keeps you more inspired than knowing where you come from. If you remember and understand where you come from you will strive to never return there but keep improving,” Ntaka says.
“If fame can make people lose themselves, get into drugs and other things that kill their professions, who am I to not get sidetracked if I do not focus.
“I therefore couldn’t focus on things that will not grow me because I knew that fame could not make Thembisile last as an artist, only hard work will.”
When Ntaka isn’t in the studio or on stage working hard, she is occupied with the role of being a mother, an aunt, a godmother and a friend, all of which she holds dearly in her heart.
“I will forever be grateful for my experiences through Adilah, moving to Johannesburg, making and losing friends, to my time at EMI until now where I stand on my own two feet.
“All of that conspired to get me to a point of reaching that dream I dreamt when I was a 15-year-old cleaning house,” she says.
Follow Ntaka on Twitter @ThembisileNtaka
The Sunday Independent