When I won the MTN SAMA Award… The name of Jesus was lifted above worldly music.”
– S’fiso Ncwane
He is the first Gospel artiste to win South African Artiste of the Year at the 2013 SAMA Awards. He has also won various other awards including BEFFTA award, SABC Crown Awards, AGMA, amongst others. Uber talented, Stylish and with a great taste in gadgets and accessories, S’fiso Ncwane is an household name in the South African Gospel music scene.
But it wasn’t always that way as S’fiso grew up from a very humble background, abandoned by his mother and living with an unemployed aunt who was already catering to 2 children. He discovered his gift for music at a tender age and that brought him some prominence in the village he grew up, also the local church.
S’fiso recorded his first professional album titled “Vulamasango” meaning – Open the Doors with Bula Music which was produced by Tshepo Ndzimande. The album did opened the door but it was his 2003 album that “Umkhumeluko” that became a multi-selling album and opened the way for a record deal with CCP Records which is part of EMI Records.
Sfiso has worked with Gospel greats such as Rebecca Malope, Winnie Mashaba, Sipho Makhabane amongst others. He is married to former Miss Teen South Africa & TV Star Ayanda Ncwane.
In this interview with SelahAfrik’s Alex Amos, Sfiso opens up on life before stardom, family, music and awards. His new album “Bayede Baba” will be out on the 6th of October, 2014.
SelahAfrik: Growing up, you dealt with a lot of challenges; can you tell us about that?
Sfiso Ncwane: After my mom left me at two weeks old, my aunt took over and raised me. My aunt was not employed and lived with her two sons. I grew up under those very difficult conditions and by the grace of God, aunt raised me with prayer… I’m not sure if it’s because it was the only thing we could afford as it is free or what. Am so glad she took me.
SelahAfrik: Tell us more about growing up with your aunty and the neighbourhood you grew up. What was it like?
Sfiso Ncwane: In the village where I grew up; obviously when you are poor, you’re not noticed and so was I until my God started to show me off. At church they heard me singing one day and I was eight years old. They were shocked and could not believe it. After that, our neighborhood started to acknowledge us as part of them. The church asked me to join the choir… not just joint it but lead it. Praise God!
SelahAfrik: Wow… that must have been a big deal back then. It wasn’t long before you picked up the sound instrument as well, can you let us into how you came about that?was
Sfiso Ncwane: I was a teenager when I started playing the keyboard. I was introduced to other family members including my mom and my siblings. My other aunt who was leaving a better life liked me a lot and as a result, she asked if I could stay with her family for a while and teach their choir some music. By some divine occurrence, my aunt said she dreamed and saw me played a keyboard while singing, the following day, she brought it home and I remember she only showed me the keys once, the next thing, I saw myself playing all the songs at the rehearsal.
SelahAfrik: While playing instruments in church, did you ever think your music will turn out the way it did today?
Sfiso Ncwane: It was my dream to sing for the world but I never imagined it the way it’s happening now. All I wanted was to hear myself on radio.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about the changes that happened in your music career/ministry
Sfiso Ncwane: Wow! I felt something while I was recording at the studio. I could not describe it, all I know is that after releasing the song, everyone loved it and they all said the same thing ‘I felt something’. I knew then that God was up to something. And He was ready to use me.
SelahAfrik: How did working with the likes of Rebecca Malope, Winnie Mashaba, Sipho Makhabane and others gave your music a facelift while working with EMI Records?
Sfiso Ncwane: 3 words – Special and favored. Especially mom Rebbeca, I think it’s every young musicians dream to work with her. It was incredible when she featured me on her live DVD.
SelahAfrik: How did you meet your wife Ayanda?
Sfiso Ncwane: (Laughs) It was on a beautiful afternoon in August 2002, she and her friends were going to buy ice cream, my friends and I were also going to buy the ice cream. I approached her as difficult as it was. She’s the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. What can I say, we finally ended up together.
SelahAfrik: She’s beautiful… Tell us about your experience being married to Ayanda, how has she contributed to your life and success?
Sfiso Ncwane: First, she is the mother of my two boys, been married for 7 good years. My wife is more adventurous than I am,so she always gets us something new and interesting to do. It has been wonderful, given a chance to take another wife, I would still marry her with no doubt. She is my manager and we are partners in the business. She is not afraid to take business risks and that has made us one of the few successful independent music company in SA. She is prayerful and trust God so much, that’s what makes me relax when she makes some risky decisions, I know we’re safe because she must have reported it to God first.
SelahAfrik: Being blessed with beautiful kids and a beautiful wife, how do you juggle being a family man and a gospel artiste?
Sfiso Ncwane: That is the part I am really struggling to conquer. I feel like I am missing out on my kids’ lives a lot. With my wife it’s good because I work with her so mostly we travel together. I try my best to take them to school every chance I get when I am at home.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about the other roles your wife plays, especially in your music?
Sfiso Ncwane: She’s always standing in the place of prayer for my projects. She is the head of marketing at our company. She coordinates all the interviews as a manager and booking agent.
My style is very simple. It’s elegant, clean and “I am blessed” style”
– S’fiso Ncwane
SelahAfrik: How did it feel to be the first Gospel artiste to win the Album of the Year award at SAMA 2013?
Sfiso Ncwane: Firstly I did not believe it was my name. I had to check with my wife (Laughs) ‘did they say Kulungile baba?’ Then I ran to stage trembling and speechless for a while. That was the moment I knew God really wants me to stand in my faith and be responsible. The name of Jesus was lifted above worldly music. That was the point God wanted to prove.
SelahAfrik: I love the song “Kulungile Baba,” what’s the inspiration behind the song & of course, the album?
Sfiso Ncwane: Sometimes we complain a lot when things happen to us especially Christians. So many hurtful things was happening in my life and my family at that time and I came to understand that; ‘ what if it’s the will of God for me and my family to go through this?’
SelahAfrik: For as many that are outside South Africa and are reading this, can you tell us the meaning of “Kulungile Baba”?
Sfiso Ncwane: It simply mean “If it is Your will God, let it be”
SelahAfrik: Wow… that’s really beautiful. What should we, your fans be expecting from Sfiso Ncwane soon as it concerns your music, anything you will like us to know?
Sfiso Ncwane: Maybe by the time the story is published, my new album “Bayede Baba” would be out. It will be officially be out on the 6th of October 2014.
SelahAfrik: Apart from music, what other projects or profession are you into?
Sfiso Ncwane: By the grace of God, I will be releasing the book about my life, just to encourage young people and those who have lost hope that when you really want something, you can get it no matter the circumstance. My wife and I also produce a TV program called “Isambulo the Revelation,” it will be on our screens from October this year – channel 261, Presented by my wife Ayanda.
SelahAfrik: You are a very stylish man, can you define you fashion style?
Sfiso Ncwane: (Laughs) thank you. My style is very simple. It’s elegant, clean and “I am blessed” style. I love details and I don’t compromise on my wristwatches, good shoes, good ties, good priced belts. My suits must sit well.
SelahAfrik: Tell us about some of your best designers & stylists, both home and abroad
Sfiso Ncwane: Tom Ford, Hugo Boss, I also wear my locals, Themba Dube from Zimbabwe and my Nigerian Friend whom I always forget his name, makes me the best suits for my body shape.
SelahAfrik: Where will you call your best vacation spot?
Sfiso Ncwane: It will have to be Paris for two reasons. Shopping and because my wife loves it to bits. I don’t need ocean on holidays, my house is right in front of Indian Ocean.
SelahAfrik: Tell us your conviction, about our Lord Jesus Christ
Sfiso Ncwane: That He really came, He died and rose again. I feel it in my spirit that He is alive.
SelahAfrik: Do you have any final word?
Sfiso Ncwane: I would like to thank All Africans for supporting the work of God that I am doing, even if they couldn’t interpret my music but because they are songs from heaven to people of God, the Holy Spirit teaches them and interpret the songs. I’m so grateful. I would like African countries to contact me and invite me, I am reachable. Lastly, may God continue to favor our continent and protect and hide us from this projection of poverty, sicknesses and diseases. Jesus paid it all, we will not suffer again. Amen
Watch S’fiso Ncwane Performance of “Kulungile Baba” & Award acceptance at the MTN SAMA 2013 + Interview on SABC News:
Video Credit: SABC Digital News/Youtube
- Written by Alex Amos
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