Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ntshikiwane Raphesu – a star with a musical calling

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ntshikiwane Raphesu, 40. Picture: Supplied

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ntshikiwane Raphesu, 40. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 9, 2023


Pretoria - It’s often easy to complete tasks of your work when you look at it as a calling, where you don’t make too much of an effort to get it done.

It brings a sense of uniqueness and you are able to preserve your own style in whatever you do. This attitude is carried by 40-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist Ntshikiwane Raphesu.

Originally from Solomondale, a small township outside Polokwane in Limpopo, Raphesu now plies her calling in Pretoria.

Although she was inspired by legendary US guitarist Tracy Chapman, she said she didn’t need to be convinced to get into music as she grew up in a musical family.

“So I didn’t need much inspiration. My late father was a singer and pianist. He didn’t pursue it professionally but that’s where I drew my love for music.

“Music is a calling for me. All the risks and uncertainty of the industry did not faze me because I knew why I chose music or, more accurately, why music chose me. My definition of ‘making it’ is seeing people enjoy and be moved by my music,” she added.

With three albums under her belt, the songstress is confident that she has the qualities to be a star, and she is building her career her own way.

“I’m not following other musicians or the mainstream template. I believe the reason why some musicians give up along the way is that they are not walking their own unique path.”

It’s hard to believe that Raphesu started her music career by accident.

“I knew I loved music but I didn’t think I would do it professionally. I started off studying sports management at the then Pretoria Technikon (now Tshwane University of Technology). Then, after sustaining a serious knee injury while playing soccer and undergoing knee surgery, I decided to switch to a performing arts course.

“I did a BA (Drama) at the University of Pretoria, and that’s where the music found me. I decided to pursue music, not acting.”

She explained why Tracy Chapman was her biggest inspiration.

“When I was young I saw a video of her performing for a stadium full of people with just her guitar. I said to myself ‘that’s what I want to do’.”

Besides serenading audiences with her guitar, Raphesu loves practising her calling on the piano.

She has worked with big names such as Selaelo Selota, who mentored her in 2016, but they never got to record music together.

“He was incredible to work with because of the depth of knowledge he had about the industry and African sounds. Currently I’m not working closely with anyone because I’m finding and solidifying my own unique sound,” Raphesu said.

Asked what was the biggest challenge facing musicians in the country, she responded: “In my opinion, it is being seen and having your own unique sound.

“We are living in a time where, on any given day, over 100 000 songs are released. It’s becoming harder for artists to be heard with all that noise. Right now artists are creating ‘social media personas’ or have gimmicks in order to be seen. The music has become secondary.”

She recalls performing at the State Theatre on March 18 this year.

“The event was a celebration of Dr Miriam Makeba. It was deep. I had been asked by the Miriam Makeba Foundation to come and celebrate her legacy with a performance.”

Her most recent performance was at Bentley’s Country Lodge in Pretoria North, and she is next entertaining audiences at Nyala Lodge in Pretoria on July 1. “It’s a concept I came up with called Soul Medicine Retreat – a musical retreat in nature,” she said.

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