Melvin Peters was born 13 March 1963 in Overport, Durban. Peters attended St Anthony’s School in Durban, matriculating from Reservoir Hills High in 1980. Peters started piano lessons at the age of six. In 1981 he embarked on a Bachelor of Music degree at the (then) University of Natal. In 1983 Peters studied jazz piano under the tutelage of Darius Brubeck.
Thereafter he completed a Master of Music degree (1989) in Jazz Performance and was appointed lecturer in Jazz Studies at the University of Durban-Westville (UDW) in 1990. He taught at UDW for ten years and during this time was awarded a scholarship to study at Harvard University in 1998/9.
He has published occasional poetry and scholarly essays on subjects such as The Harlem Renaissance, Hip Hop as a Pedagogical Tool, Slave Rebellion Depiction in African American Literature and The Poetry of Curtis Mayfield.
Peters has performed locally and internationally in France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, in the UK, Australia and in the USA. He has worked with several jazz musicians, including Winston Mankunku, Barney Rachabane, Tandie Klaasen, Sandile Shange and Gloria Bosman. Personal performance highlights include performances alongside guitarist Herb Ellis and drummer Ginger Baker and with the legendary jazz pianist Dave Brubeck at Harvard University in 1999. Peters collaborated with Abdullah Ibrahim in the formation of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, for which he was also appointed Music Director.
Peters has acted as Music Director for several shows including the television show Don’t Forget the Lyrics, which was recorded in Nigeria last year; the stage production Jimbo at the Playhouse, as well as the production Birth of the Blues, which was featured as part of the Durban International Blues Festival last September. He has also taught and performed at the National Schools Jazz Festival in Grahamstown and later this year will perform in Germany and Norway respectively.
He was an organist and Choir Director at St Pauls Church, Durban. He is currently External Examiner (Jazz) at University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.