A charismatic performer who has been serenading us with his guitar since the nineties. His soul-stirring sounds, which incorporate modern and traditional elements of jazz, have been the background music to many Christmas lunches, family road trips and of course shisa nyamas.
But Ddludlu simply describes himself as a “guy who likes to jam”. And every time he gets on stage, this is exactly what he does. With more than 20 years as one of our continent’s most successful musicians, it’s almost impossible to imagine Dludlu changing anything about the music style that has earned him the epithet “jazz maestro”. But he is excited about adding different elements to his music.
Dludlu recently worked with popular house musician DJ Kent on the single Guitar Boogie, and will also be releasing a single with DJ Cleo.
“It’s important for musicians to keep up with the times,” Dludlu says.
“I’m a very open musician and I love experimenting with my music. Collaborating with someone from a different musical genre can be risky, because you never know what will come out of your collaboration. But I would much rather risk it and hope for the best, than let my music stay in the same place. Working with other musicians doesn’t necessarily take away from your music, it just allows for another creative voice to come through.”
Dludlu’s sound is a mixture of the Portuguese influence from Angola, traditional South African rhythms and Mozambican salsa. It was created when he first picked up his cousin’s homemade guitar as a teenager, imitating American jazz artists like Wes Montgomery and George Benson.
Dludlu perfected his craft at the University of Cape Town, where he completed a three-year jazz programme. After years as a guitarist for various bands, playing in Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa, his sound became distinct enough for him to entertain a crowd on his own.
It was the South African playwright and creator of SABC2’s Muvhango Duma ka Ndlovu who first recognised Dludlu’s talent, so it was only fitting that the singer honour Ndlovu on his first album Echoes From The Past, which he released in 1997. The album earned Dludlu numerous awards and was released in countries such as Switzerland, Hungary and Sweden.
Speaking about his ability to stay relevant in a changing musical landscape, Dludlu says its all about commitment.
“There is absolutely no way around working hard,” he says.
“It’s easy to be distracted in the music industry, but if you want to stay at the top of your game, it’s important to simply stay focused on your craft.”
Dludlu also admits that he wouldn’t be where he is today, if it wasn’t for the teams he’s had an opportunity to work with.
Despite having won numerous awards, Dludlu feels that his biggest achievement is being recognised by the musicians he has always idolised.
“I’ll never forget the day when Al Jarreau called me up to jam with him on stage,” he says.
“I’ve also had the honour of sharing the stage with Pat Metheny and George Benson. These are musical moments that I will always cherish.”