Thandi Ntuli was born on the 10th September 1987 in one of South Africa's largest townships, Soshanguve (Pretoria). She comes from a lineage of rich musical heritage, being the niece of guitarist, pianist and lead vocalist of 70's pop fusion band Harari (The Beaters), Selby Ntuli.
At the tender age of 4, she started taking classical piano lessons under the tutelage of Ada Levkowitz. However, her keen interest for jazz was only kindled later in life, leading her to enroll and complete a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance at The University of Cape Town.
Since the release of her debut jazz album, "The Offering" which she released independently, Thandi is fast making an imprint in the local jazz scene with her unique voice. "The Offering" has received critical acclaim as well as numerous awards and recognition since its release in 2014, namely a MetroFM award nomination for "Best Urban Jazz" in 2015.
If there is a point of reference, it has to be the late Bheki Mseleku in the way it employs spare, almost meditative themes that spiral outwards, gaining ever more lush and ornate harmonic underpinnings as they progress. There's a lyrical joy in the development of the arrangements (as on Love Remembers) that Mseleku would also have recognised and appreciated.
- for Business Day Live
Her compositions draw from a wide array of influences, this she attributes to the collaborative culture of jazz that has seen her working closely with many artists, across genres. Some of her most notable collaborations include Thandiswa Mazwai, Neo Muyanga, Steve Dyer, QB Smith (UK/SA), Marcus Wyatt, The Brother Moves On, Sir LSG, Bheki Khoza, Siya Makuzeni and many more.
Pianist and vocalist Thandi Ntuli is part of a new generation of South African musicians who reflect this idea of crosscultural jazz. Raised in South Africa, Ntuli grew up on a mix of South African and American jazz as well as traditional African music. When you hear her fingers touch the ivories, the notes that flow come from the river of tradition that houses Chopin, Art Tatum, and Nina Simone. But in her compositions and vocals, you hear her channel the rhythms of life that inform can inform music all around Africa.
Jackson Sinnenberg for NPR.org
It's hard to find a contemporary jazz pianist whose work is as aesthetically rich is Thandi Ntuli's is. Her music is laden with elements of neo-soul and nu-jazz yet her mastery of the traditional bop sound is unmatched. Her intermittent vocals caress the ear with enchantment. Every one of her melodies is memorable. She's found a way to make jazz accessible without making it any less intellectual. Her debut record ‘The Offering' is nothing short of a masterpiece. It seems to crystallize all the ideas of black music in the last century into an original work of art. A beautifully new sound that's in some ways abstract yet no way detached from emotion. In fact, emotion pours out of her music like long anticipated rain on an arid African cultural landscape-Purity arriving to rinse away the scars of civilization. It will leave you feeling elated and enlightened; ready to take on the realities of everyday life with this spiritual amour blaring in your headphones.
Edward Kgosidintsi for afropunk.com