The way Nqobile Ngidi talks about his life you’d think it’s something out of a Hollywood film script. The “film” is not one saturated with romantic scenes or action shots, but is actually a rags-to-riches type of tale.
Now, with a new album out that will influence the future of gospel music, the young man looked back with melancholy in his eyes.
“Not so long ago I was a street vendor,” he reflected.
He had been hustling for everyone’s pocket change for more than seven years by selling sweets and chips.
“It was a small business I started when I had finished matric,” the musician explained.
That part of his life remained firmly stuck in the past from the moment Ngidi decided to enter the second season auditions of SABC2’s I Want To Sing Gospel. Though he was ousted from the competition while in seventh position, Ngidi won over seasoned singer Hlengiwe Mhlaba’s heart with his voice.
“She was on the judging panel when I was voted out. She approached me and offered to help me with some recording time and songwriting. I jumped at the opportunity and today am thrilled that the album, Mana Njalo, is finally out,” he said.
It is interesting that out of all the possible people to help him, Mhlaba came to his rescue. She may have seen the talent and the potential, but methinks Ngidi’s background also played on her emotions.
In an interview with Tonight a few years back, the singer confessed she had lived in a tiny home she’d called an “Aquafresh”. She explained that it was named after the striped toothpaste because it was an all purpose, one-roomed abode. She had a kitchen in one corner, a bedroom in the other and the lounge in another. When she broke on to the music scene she made a point of buying herself a proper home. So Ngidi’s history is not far off from Mhlaba’s.
“I was shocked to find myself in a studio because I wasn’t a winner. Mana Njalo is just me thanking God that I am now here. I know many people sing just to entertain, but when I am performing it is from the heart,” he said.
Barely a few weeks after the album was released, a few of the songs are already being playlisted on various radio stations.
“Mana Njalo and Wangithatha have been played on some stations and that is very humbling,” he said.
Ngidi’s success does not end there; wherever he goes, fans of the TV talent show and his successes thereafter have embraced what he has to offer: “I go to some places to perform and all my CDs are sold out before the show is over. It is all surreal.”
• Mana Njalo is available at your local music store.