“There’s no doubt Ndivhuho NL is having the best year of his career thus far. Thungununu Nemulambo, the title track of his second album was voted Best Jazz Song at this year’s Mzantsi Jazz Awards. It was also voted Best African Jazz Song at this year’s South African Traditional Music Awards and a week ago was voted Best Jazz Single & Best Jazz Allbum at Limpopo Music Awards”
It has not been an easy journey to success for the 38- year- old guitarist, composer, arranger, and music teacher who had to endure hardships many ambitious young people go through to realize their dreams. “After completing matric, I had to spend three years raising money for my tertiary education. I had several jobs including working as a gardener in Sibasa”, he told Jazz It Out.
Ndivhuho Luvhengo is the first-born child to Avhakatali Joyce Netselo Luvhengo and Simon Luvhengo. The artist known as Ndivhuho N L to his adoring fans was born in Siloam, Nzhelele and raised in Muangani Village near Thohoyandou, Limpopo. It’s his mother who had an influence on him. “She sang in several choirs which drove a desire in me to learn musical instruments”, he said with a smile. Church played a great influence in Ndivhuho’s upbringing.
His love for music grew even further when he started high school. During free periods, he would entertain fellow learners as well as teachers, imitating some of his favourite reggae artists. He also joined a male choir where they would practice after school. Ndivhuho recalls the first time he played an instrument was when Mr Samson Mudau taught him how to play the acoustic guitar. “I thoroughly enjoyed reggae and country music those days”, he added.
Three years after completing matric, Ndivhuho enrolled for the Certificate in Music at the University of Venda. The certificate was a bridging course to prepare him for the degree since he did not study music at high school. That did not deter him. He saw it as a good preparation for the degree he wanted to obtain. Ndivhuho completed the Bachelor of Music with an extra year of doing the honours in record time while obtaining a few distinctions in some modules.
“While studying at university, I fell deeply in love with jazz and I did a lot of practicing to master the genre and how it’s played”, he told Jazz It Out. Those years were centred around jazz. He even put his own social life on hold in order to complete the studies. The friendship he struct with fellow student Justice Mbedzi led to the formation of a band called “Generation X”. Even though the bad later collapsed, it gave Ndivhuho the first experience of how bands are formed and the teamwork that goes in sustaining the life of a musical group.
“Vhutsila ifa lashu (Art our heritage)” is the title of the debut album that he released seven years after graduating from University of Venda. The release of the project was preceded by the release of several singles which were quite popular. “By the time the album was released, the audience was familiar with some of the songs”, Ndivhuho said. “Vhutsila ifa lashu (Art our heritage)” was drawn from African jazz and fusion. “I was influenced by God’s creations. Art is a gift from God that no one can repossess from you. It was important to have my own identity as an artist”, he added.
The recognition he received from the release of his debut album saw him performing at several festivals and events such as the Marula Art Festival, Mapungubwe Exhibitions and several jam sessions. Ndivhuho is also music educator and producer who has worked with many young instrumentalists in different high schools. He is currently working as a volunteer, teaching music in different primary schools located within the Vhembe District. “I have a huge passion for teaching. If you impart skills to the next person, you also grow as an individual”, beaming with pride of giving back to his community.
Ndivhuho’s passion with school children is so evident in his second album “Thungununu Nemulambo”. He recorded the album with learners from Mahwasane Primary School making him a recipient of several awards. He admits: “The song “Thungununu Nemulambo” is a massive hit. It also proves that young learners have an appreciation of jazz. All age groups can relate to jazz”. He used to teach music at the school and was more than happy to work with the learners while exposing their talent in his recording.
“The two main differences between by two albums is that the first took the angle of fusion where I wanted to accommodate everyone. On the second one, I wanted to expose children as professional musicians of the future”, Ndivhuho emphasized. Talent nurturing is something that drives him as a music educator. When the title track of his second album was voted Best Jazz Song at this year’s Mzantsi Jazz Awards, little did he know that more awards were to follow.
Despite the multi awards he has received, Ndivhuho is a very humble musician who is very focused on what he wants and intends on making a more meaningful contribution to jazz. He can also play bass guitar and keyboards but not proficiently. His favourite guitarists include Richard Bona, Pat Metheny and George Benson. “I wish to grow as a guitarist and receive more global recognition. I also wish to establish projects for creative arts which will create more jobs in the arts industry”, he told Jazz It Out.
Ndivhuho enjoys travelling and meeting people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. The multi – award winning guitarist also enjoys reading biographies and believes South African jazz has a bright future. He believes this country’s musicians must bring an African identity to their music which will earn them respect from their global counterparts. “The world has a lot to learn from the music we create”, he concluded.
His fan page is Ndivhuho NL’s FanPage and @ndivhuho on Instagram. His Twitter handle is @NdivhuhoLuvheng while his YouTube channel is ndivhuho nl.