During her early days in the industry as a lead singer of the maskandi outfit, Amaponi, Ntombi Ngcobo (daughter of Bheki best known as Ihhashi Elimhlophe and Linah Ngcobo popularly known as Ebony) became popularly known for her electrifying dancing moves and charming vocal command. After the success of Amaponi, there came a point in time when she decided to start a solo career. Still an electrifying performer, the talented vocalist has struck back with a new flavoured sound called popra music – a mix of African instruments and raga music.
Talking about her new journey, Ntombi says the reason she decided to introduce popra music is because she was touched by Jamaican music when she toured the country with Amaponi for performances. After becoming hooked on the raga, Ntombi decided to infuse the Jamaican sound into her music.
Because of the popularity she gained in the maskandi act, adding a raga feel to her music would seem to be a good move as Ntombi wanted to continue singing and still entertain people with her dancing skills but in a different genre. “With Amaponi, we sang and danced so I wanted to venture into a sound that would still allow me showcase my singing and dancing talents.”
Introducing new sound can be challenging, especially in an industry that is filled with modern sounds. Ntombi admits that she was not so sure that people were going to admire her new style. “I was scared at first but I am a believer and if God allowed it to happen, he won’t get me to do something that I can’t succeed in.” Even though Ntombi was determined, when some people heard her music, they would discourage her and try to convince her to focus on more popular genres. “People discouraged me saying my music was not that great, but, when I played it, I felt that’s what I wanted to pursue and beyond everything else, I wanted to be different.”
Even though Ntombi’s music is up-tempo, she believes that some of the songs she has recorded will have a wider appeal than just youth.
Talking about the recording of her popra songs, she says that being introduced to the producer, Sifiso ‘Mazola’ Mbebe, was a blessing from above. Wanting her music to be perfect, Ntombi decided to hunt for producers who could put together the kind of sound she wanted. “I tried a whole lot of producers and there are songs that I had to cut out because they were not entirely in line with what I wanted to achieve.” Even so, the gifted singer did not stop searching and finally she opted to go for producers who are fresh in the industry and are willing to break new grounds, and introduce new sounds.
With her new sound, Ntombi hopes to encourage up-and-coming artists not to be scared to explore and introduce something fresh to the industry. “All I want is to encourage other people not to just follow what has been done before. If you feel you have something fresh to offer, don’t be scared – explore because you will never know what will work for you.”
Reflecting back on her experiences in the industry, Ntombi advises others to educate themselves and learn how the industry operates. She also points out that people need to be fully involved in building of their careers.
After a chat with the talented singer and dancer, it is clear that Ntombi is ready to take on the world and introduce her new sound. Equipped with the industry knowledge and singing skills, it is likely to be a matter of time before she attracts attention for her contribution to the music world.