What better way to celebrate the festive season than by singing our favourite Christmas carols?

UKZN Howard College is doing just that, but with a twist. They’re fusing jazz with traditional Christmas carols.

The concert, which kicks off tonight and runs again tomorrow, is in its fourth year and features award-winning singers Sandile Gontsana (pictured) and Zarcia Zacheus.

Cape-town based jazz singer Gonstsana is charming and down-to-earth. Chatting about this year’s Carols Go Jazz concert, he said: “When I first got the call about this, I was like: ‘What?’ (laughs). I was really excited. My very close friend, Melanie Scholtz, did the same thing last year and I love her. It was a huge thing for me and I was really excited to do it, especially in Durban because it’s like my second home. I just love Durban audiences, the people are so warm-hearted and I know it’s going to be great.”

For Gonstsana, music is a huge part of his life: “I’ve grown not to just love it, but be really passionate about it and giving my life to it. Jazz is a broad subject. It’s huge; people need to get to that point of appreciating the music.

“We have awesome musicians here and I’m really thankful for their music so I say we should all get to that point of listening to it and appreciating it in general.”

Some of the jazz singer’s biggest highlights in his career have been sharing the stage with popular UK band Jazz Jamaica, touring Europe a few years back and winning The Jazz Idols Open Mic Singing Competition in 2010.

“Those were all great moments. Going to Europe was an amazing chapter in my life; I don’t talk about it much. At that time I’d just finished my undergrad. I wanted to go out of the country and explore. To be honest, I didn’t learn much musically, but I grew a lot as an artist and a a young man and I was so proud to be a South African. I appreciated the South African culture much more and realised how important it is. It was great and I’ve grown as Sandile.

“When I came back, I knew exactly that jazz was what I wanted to do. It’s my passion. I also realised that this is home and the place for me and I’m not ever going back to Europe,” he laughs.

“I feel that you need to stay true to who you are. Music is changing and moving in other directions. I think it’s about the inner self and staying true and staying real.

“If you can do that, then it reflects in your music and your music will be great. That’s what makes me unique – and my music,” he says.

• Catch the Carols Go Jazz Festive Concert at UKZN, Howard College Theatre, tonight and tomorrow. Tickets cost R120 at Computicket, Shoprite Checkers or at the door on the night. Info: carols [email protected]