Lucky Ndaba – a change in direction
01 January 1970
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Hello and welcome to Old Mutual Live Radio, I am Aphiwe Manono, your host and as usual we’re bringing you some of South Africa’s freshest talented artists. Today we’re speaking to vocalist and part time stylist Lucky Ndaba. Lucky, thank you so much for joining us and welcome to Old Mutual Radio.
Lucky Ndaba: Hi Aphiwe, thank you so much.
AU: Thank you for agreeing to do the interview with us. Let’s start with you being a vocalist, how did this come about? We’ve heard the story that oh no, my parents were into music and so I sort of fell into it. How did you find yourself in the music industry?
My journey’s starting point
LN: You know, growing up, I mean singing is just one of those things because I mean if it’s not at school, it’s at church, you know what I mean? That’s where I pretty much started and as I went by, obviously post matric and I decided; you know how parents would just want you to study something, they usually put it as, you need to something to fall back on.
I still don’t know, what are we falling from? So post that, I remember when I was still registering, my mom wanted me to do finance and what-not, I started at a college, just to do short courses, it was computer and office work, whatever, administration.
Then I eventually got to enrol and I studied finance for two years and when I was supposed to complete the whole thing, it then hit me, you know what, this is completely not for me. I remember when I was supposed to jump to the third year and complete everything else and make her happy, but unfortunately I couldn’t take it anymore.
Because I felt like in my life, I’m spending, building something that is not a part of me, it’s not in my heart. I’d already started singing with a few groups, being involved here and there, doing a few studio stations here and there, like that kind of builds. It kind of got built up in me and I was like, the passion grew and I was like, I’m ready to actually take risks and just stand up and do something for myself.
I remember that after deciding that I’m dropping out of finance and everything, I had to do something because she hated the idea of me just chilling and me saying I’m thinking what I’ll do next. I remember I’d always been passionate about radio as well and there’s a campus radio, so I remember after that, I had to think fast. I had to think of something that I wanted to do daily. It had to make sense for my future plans as well. So it has to be something in line with what I’m passionate about.
I had a friend of mine at the time who had a studio, so I asked him, dude, help me out, put together a radio demo or whatever, let’s do it. I remember at the time, they didn’t have an air vacancy for a DJ, they were short of news readers. I remember, because I was so desperate to get to do something and I was so desperate to just find something to do.
Started out in radio – as a news reader
As long as it’s going to get me to where I want to be, I remember at that time, I had a meeting with the news editor and we were just chilling and she liked me, you know what I mean? We had a beautiful interview and then she was like, I like your voice, you do have that radio voice, you’re well spoken and I was like, oh, okay, thank you so much and she was keen to give me a chance.
Then she started training me and we started doing all those reading, cause I mean when you start doing news reading, your sight reading skill has to be a point because obviously you’re going to start reading news on air and some shows are live, not even some, most shows are actually live. So you’d be reading and just obviously for news, it needs to be informative, so people need to hear what you’re saying.
So, it didn’t even take a while, I remember she trained me for like a few days and she was amazed at how quickly I was learning. We started doing it and I pushed and pushed. After I started doing news, something strange happened, like listeners would call in and say, who is that guy, who is this Lucky Ndaba guy, I mean he makes us look forward to his news bulletin. He’s got such a great voice, it’s so captivating, you know what I mean?
For me, I found it so humbling and I remember this other day, her and the station manager were chatting and I asked her, what’s happening? She’s like, no, they want to poach you from my team and give you a slot and slot you somewhere else as a DJ. I’m like, I thought they had enough DJs, you know, so then yeah.
AU: So the voice has always been there basically, from what you’re telling me, you ended up reading news and then it’s funny, because what you had applied to do, which was being a radio DJ, was what they were fighting for now, that they’re trying to poach you to become that. The universe works in mysterious ways I tell you.
From news reader to DJ to Jo’burg
LN: I know, tell me about it, you just need to be at the right place with the right people, doing the right thing and then the rest just falls into place, that’s what I believe. So yeah, so I was in that radio station for like a year and six months, almost two years. I remember I was a news reader for four months and then they slotted me on some afternoon drive slot, with some head presenter, the then head presenter.
She was hot and happening and her show was most listened to and then I joined the team. The listenership grew higher and higher and they were happy. Then it kind of burst something in me and I was like, oh, this is something I could actually look into, in the future though because I knew I still wanted to pursue music. I remember when I left, this is when everybody loved me so much and they trusted me with the afternoon whatever slot.
Then I was just like, okay, instead of staying and growing it even further, I got a call from a friend of mine telling me that a place is looking for actors and singers and what-not. I remember, being in a small town called Vaal Triangle, I mean you just like, you feel like you’re suffocating, especially as an artist. Usually creatives and artists just enjoy just basically going from this space to the next and next.
I remember I was slowly getting bored with the space and what I had to do daily and whatever and as much as I loved my job, I felt like my surroundings and everything, it’s not inspiring for me to grow. I felt like I’ve done it all, I’ve reached what I wanted to, so now it’s time to move. I remember when I made that decision, they couldn’t believe it. I literally gave them a few days notice, that guys, I need to go, I’m actually moving to Jo’burg and trying to make my dreams become a reality.
What better way to do it, because I remember in high school I used to do drama a lot and I was one of those few privileged kids who got to be trained at the Market Theatre. Remember then the Market Theatre used to have something, it was a training for arts and drama.
I had that training and I remember my mom was so excited about me going through that and we travelled to Jo’burg for our training and then at the end of it all we were even awarded with certificates, like we did well. We look like future guys as far as acting and artists are concerned. I remember I had that burning desire to do performing arts. So when I dropped the radio job I had to kind of move to take this step, take this risk of just trying to pursue my performing arts burning desire and yeah, I’ve come to Jo’burg –
AU: You came to Jo’burg and you seem to have found gold!
AU: We’ll get into that, we’ll get into that.