Themba Mkhize, born in Durban in 1957, was introduced to music at an early age. He discovered jazz while in high school and was spotted by local band, “Dukes Combo”. In 1981 he started performing professionally with the band “Sakhile”. In 1984 Themba joined renowned band “Bayete”, and remained part of the celebrated ensemble for over ten years. He took a role in the musical “Buwa“, which was written by Caiphus Semenya and toured around Africa, featuring many music legends.
Before starting his solo career in 1999, Themba had performed with many of SA’s great, including the legendary Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo and Miriam Makeba, to name just a few. In fact you can hear Themba’s piano keys going in one of Hugh Masekela’s most famous performances, when he recorded his album ‘Hope‘ live in Washington DC’s Blues Alley in 1993.
Tales from the South
After having worked with the best of South African musicians, including Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo and Miriam Makeba, Themba released his long overdue solo album, Tales from the South in 1999. His debut album was a glorious celebration of the experiences he had gained and served as a signature release of energy from this talented Durban musician. The album received a warm response from critics and won three awards at the South African Music Awards in 2000, followed by Daimler-Chrysler’s Best Musician Award.
Themba’s musical virtuosity, coupled with his persistent attempts to marry traditional Zulu and Jazz idioms, have made him an artist worthy of world-wide attention. In 2008, Themba released Scenes from South Africa, which presented key recordings from his solo albums, with trumpeter Hugh Masekela and vocalist Sibongile Kumalo as featured guests. His mix of African rhythms with American jazz created a pioneering style in the evolution of jazz and world music.
But Themba’s talent extends beyond his passion for jazz, and his skill at blending local Zulu sounds with a genre that’s typically associated with African-American parentage. In addition to being an award-winning musician, Themba also owns Mavovo Production Studios, and co-owns Thella Music with his partner, Stella Khumalo. The multi-award winning jazz maestro, producer, pianist and music director also conducts workshops to impart his musical skills and knowledge. His son, Afrika Mkhize, is also a world-renowned Jazz musician who was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist of the year for Jazz in 2012.