The time has arrived for everyone with an African spirit to celebrate One Night, as this larger-than-life single, featuring Nipho, Ngola III, and Sophiatown, hits the airwaves.
One Night was penned by Nipho Mkhize himself – a funky urban pop tune. It is about a young African mineworker who has been separated from his true love, his fiancé, as a result of the harsh working conditions mine labourers were subjected to during the Apartheid era.
“Music has always played a massive role in reconciling pain and trauma. I wanted to write a track that will lift people’s spirits by giving them a song that they can dance and celebrate to, wherever they might find themselves in life, in contemporary South Africa. When writing the song I found myself reflecting on my parents’ relationship and how they fell in love during a most difficult period in the country. Nonetheless, they saw a future in the chaos,” explains Nipho.
“The rhetoric of today at times seems almost too polarising and often leaves most of our present generation paralysed and uninspired. Whilst writing One Night there seemed to be a lot of hopelessness lingering amongst South Africans. The negativity often regurgitated from the Apartheid era sometimes can be justified, but is not always necessary. Over summer, when I go back home, I love looking at photographs of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents laughing and celebrating life. These are often backed up with a nostalgic and endearing story, in spite of the harsh and difficult times for them.”
The idea and essence of what One Night is about “even in the darkest and most oppressive of times there still can be love, romance, and laughter. The resilience and endurance of the human spirit is amazing, and we have to and need to keep that fire in all of us burning”, Nipho emphasises.
Edward King, Nipho’s good friend from college, produced One Night. He enthuses, “We’ve always had a close relationship and experimented in different directions. Edward loves scoring films and especially comes alive when putting music-to-script and to motion pictures. We have been exploring music together for the past five years, resulting in One Night and a few other really exciting tracks. Being able to make music with my mate is amazing – and the chemistry in the studio was electric. You can’t force that, it just happens.”
NIPHO STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT FROM AN EARLY AGE
Born and raised in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, Nipho’s passion for music was evident from a young age. He joined the school choir in grade one – stealing the solos and the spotlight. By grade 6, at age 12, he put together and led his first band.
“Like many big artists in pop culture today, my earliest opportunities to perform in front of a live audience came from church. I was involved with a variety of church bands. At age 16, I was given the opportunity to lead the church band and performed in front of hundreds of teenagers and church folk. This gave me a lot of experience and confidence, contributing immensely to my growth as a performer,” says Nipho. Simultaneously, this talented teen was heavily involved in drama and musical showcases, giving him the opportunity to pursue his other passion – acting!
GOING AGAINST THE GRAIN IS IN NIPHO’S BLOOD
After he matriculated, Nipho took a gap year in order to do some missionary work. The focus was on rural developments – education, as well as building houses and churches. “It was a fantastic experience, as for the first time I really got to see what I was made of,” he states.
Thereafter, Nipho started studying a law degree through UNISA. During his second year of studies, he worked at a law firm in Pietermaritzburg. On top of his work and study commitments, he mustered up the energy and enthusiasm to write a few musical compositions, resulting in his first studio recording experience.
After much deliberation, Nipho decided not to pursue a legal degree, but rather a full-time career in entertainment. He is the first in his family to pursue a career in the arts. “At first it was a bit of a shock to my two brothers and parents, but after a few months they supported and stood behind me. I owe them everything. My parents are the only ones in their respective families that have the level of qualifications that I have. I believe that I learned the instinct to do what is difficult and unusual from them; it kind of feels like it’s in my blood,” he says.
THE CULTURE SHOCK OF MOVING TO CAPE TOWN
In order to pursue a career in entertainment, Nipho relocated to Cape Town and enrolled at the AFDA Film School for courses in screen acting. “It was a massive cultural shock and the Mother City was difficult to adjust to. Coming from a small town where everything was about community, I was thrown into the deep end. However, I stuck it out as the city was inspiring and it felt like it had a lot of untapped potential. I learned a lot in those years and in many ways it gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself with no pressure,” he says.
During 2017 Nipho released the single Runaway, which received extensive radio-play on some of SA’s biggest radio stations, including 5FM and East Coast Radio.
Since then, Nipho recorded the EP called Reflections From Date Night, off which One Night is the first single.
And his acting career? During 2017 Nipho won Best Supporting Actor at the 48hour International Film Festival in Cape Town. “This was massive for me – it was the first acting award I received since I left college. My dad retired during the same time period and I couldn’t have thought of a better retirement gift for all the support he’s given me,” shares Nipho
GETTING TO KNOW NIPHO
To fans out there – good news! Nipho is indeed single. “My parents have been married for over 35 years now. It’s a great example and a tough act to follow. My profession is robust and sometimes brutal on relationships. I think it’s important to let things happen organically and take as much time as you can to put in the right foundations,” he states.
“One of the biggest obstacles I had to face was not getting caught up in the rat race. The music and film industry are two of the most competitive industries out there. Both industries have a way of regularly bringing out your worst insecurities. It’s an everyday struggle to genuinely and sincerely be a fan of those who are both colleagues and competitors. It’s not all bad and in a lot of ways, I’ve found it helpful to see it as a sport.
“Managing the process is where the challenge comes in, and often proves more of an obstacle than I initially thought it would be. It’s also the thing I most appreciate about the job. It gives you an opportunity to grow as person and it can be as simple and silly as learning to celebrate the jobs you wanted, but your friend got, and to not always seek recognition and affirmation from the numbers…This takes maturity, humility and I think these are some integral values that are worth revisiting regularly and have proven helpful in my personal growth. Your work will never be deeper than you are as a person and it’s this tension that I appreciate about the obstacles in the industry,” Nipho explains.
In conclusion, he states: “I really just want to inspire people. There are things that every artist, including myself, wants to achieve, but at the end of the day, I just want to create great art that makes people feel and think and ultimately move them (literally and figuratively). I love working in this industry because you get to connect…I think for me if I can connect with people in a positive and a healthy way, I’ve done well with my life. To write a song like One Night is monumental and I hope it fills peoples’ hearts with joy. Joy is a rare commodity and I couldn’t be more grateful and honoured to be part of a song that brings happiness into people’s lives.”
You can view the lyric video of One Night at https://vimeo.com/270966683.
One Night will be available soon on most digital platforms, including iTunes and Google Play.
Follow Nipho on social media by connecting on Facebook (NiphoMusic) and Twitter (@Nipho_SA).