Queen of both jazz and choral music, Soweto-born Sibongile Khumalo has dedicated herself to keeping alive the memory of her father and musical mentor, professor Khabi Mngoma.
“I am a little girl born in Soweto, who grew up following marching bands and attending choral music events,” says Khumalo, who turns 60 tomorrow.
A legend characterised by her powerful yet versatile first soprano pitch, Khumalo has built a solid career based on a vast knowledge of music.
After completing a BA in music at the University of Zululand and an honours degree in music at Wits, she was in 2009 awarded an honorary doctorate by Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
Passionate about music and her journey in the industry, Khumalo makes it a point to focus on the successes and positives, which has seen her perform on international stages.
“Call me an eternal optimist because I tend not to dwell in the negative, but rather look forward to the new prospects life brings my way,” she says.
“I am fortunate to have surrounded myself with people who have supported me and continue to carry me through the hard times. I cherish the love I have received.”
A daughter, sister, mother and now grandmother, Khumalo has made no mistake of taking in every blessing life has bestowed on her.
Her face sparkles as she talks about her father’s relationship with music.
“I grew up in music; my dad was a choir conductor who went on to become a professor of music at university and later pioneered the department of music at the university, so I had no choice but to get involved in music.
“My brother tried to go his own way. However, he is now deeply rooted in the teaching of music.”
For the 1993 Standard Bank Young Artist Award recipient, coming to terms with her destiny at a young age helped mould and shape her reality.
“It’s always seemed natural to do what I believe I was born to do – music.”
Despite her accomplishments, both nationally and internationally, it is Khumalo’s humility and openness one notices first as they embrace everyone who finds themselves within her orbit.
Having collaborated with a vast number of artists from genres ranging from classical to afro-pop and with award-winning artist Kelly Khumalo, she says empowering the youth is just as dear to her heart as performing.
“I am associated with a school that my dad started more than 30 years ago in KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are still busy laying the foundations of the structure and the day I see the full structure standing, I will feel complete and have fulfilled my personal goal.”
The Khongisa Academy for the Performing Arts is the last and most precious gift the vocalist seeks to give to the world in honour of her father.
But that does not mean she is about to stop releasing her own new musical material. – firstname.lastname@example.org