Artist of the Week – Victor Mhleli Ntoni

by Simon Ndlovu

Victor Mhleli Ntoni was born in 1947 in Langa, Cape Town, he grew up in the townships of Cape Town and first learned to play guitar before switching to double bass. As a teenager, he played with McCoy Mrubata in his band The Uptown sextet. He was self-taught before he received a scholarship to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1976.

As musical director of the musical Meropa Ntoni went on a European tour in 1975. Through the drummer Nelson Magwaza he met Abdullah Ibrahim, on whose album Peace and other recordings he was involved with between 1971 and 1979. He formed a sextet with Kippie Moeketsi, before going to study at Berklee School of Music, and played with Dudu Pukwana in 1978 (Diamond Express) and in 1979 with Hugh Masekela, also writing compositions including “Nomalizo”. Furthermore, Ntoni worked for Mike Ratau Mkhalemele, Iconoblast and Ezra Ngcukana.

In the late 1980s, Ntoni was the musical director of the Carling Circle of Jazz festival.

Ntoni’s album Heritage (2004) received excellent reviews and was nominated in the category “Best Contemporary Jazz Album” for the South African Music Award (SAMA).

He wrote and arranged the music in The South African Songbook -. SA Folklore Music (National Heritage Council, 2012).

In 2014 Ntoni was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga in silver.[ – wikiArtist

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