Msizi Njapha hails from a small township called Marrianhill in Kwazulu Natal.
This young man has been dealt quite a lot of hardships growing up, losing his mother and two sisters at a very young age. Although he was forced to grow up very quickly, this talent has a very positive disposition and the determination to succeed both in the musical theatre industry and now in the music industry.
With a background in musical theatre, Msizi has now reinvented his world and is now making his mark in the music industry, in Msizi World.
Msizi World isn’t only inspirational, but he has produced and written his debut album ‘Breaking Out’. This album, with an afro-pop feel, has a South African appeal but it goes beyond that, with a language spectrum including Zulu, Setswana, Tsonga, English and Igbo which is spoken in Nigeria.
“I think music is healing for everyone; whether you are creating it or listening to it. It helps you see things from a different perspective. For me, being able to sing was the ultimate thing that helped me express myself. Joining theatre was one of the best things I could have ever done. It helped me face all these emotions and what I was feeling.”
“I think when you expose yourself as a performer people connect better with you and understand you. Being honest and telling your story is more relatable. It has helped me a lot. I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t a performer and singer. I would probably be just another bitter person feeling sorry for myself.”
When did you decide that you wanted to do musical theatre?
“In 2006, after I matriculated, I came to Pretoria and studied local governance management. After that, I met people who were involved with the State theatre, and who did shows there. I didn’t know anything about theatre. I knew I could sing but had no clue about theatre. I went to theatre, to watch a show once when I was in Grade 8.”
“Then I started becoming interested in theatre as I felt at home in the theatre. After receiving my certificate of local governance management, I went to study my labour relations course but didn’t finish it as my mind was already in theatre. I went to the State Theatre in 2007 and started drama and theatrical movement. When I finished that, after a year, I managed to get a few theatre jobs in theatre and musical theatre. This is what made me happy and I realised that this was my passion.”
“In 2009 I felt that I must go to school and further my studies in performing. I auditioned to study at TUT and I got in. I started my studies in 2010 and finished in 2012.”
You decided last year that you were going to bring out a music album. What sparked this idea?
“As a theatre and musical theatre practitioner, you only get a job when you go for auditions and I was very lucky that I got into shows. I don’t have issues against that, but I wanted something of my own and something that I had control over. I wanted to bring my name out there to the people. I believed that this is what it would take to get my name out there faster. With an album, I will be able to connect with people better and people can take me more seriously in this industry. The idea to release this album came to me in 2011. A few friends of mine and myself were just talking about this. We first decided to focus on our studies but I felt that I had a story to tell.”
What amazes me is that your music is in English, Zulu, Igbo, etc. It is amazing that you can speak all these languages. Why did you decided to record an album in all these languages?
“My name explains this– ‘Msizi World’. My aim is not just to touch South Africans or a certain ethnic group, but to get out there in the whole world; first by starting in South Africa and then eventually to go overseas to share it with other people. When someone addresses you in your own language it is more special and shows a respect. People are moved by this. Language is how we connect with people. With Igbo, I can’t really speak it well, but I had this melody which was in my head which had its influence from Nigeria. I actually wrote the lyrics in English. A friend of mine translated the words for me and I learnt it. I think with every album I have I will add different languages, so that I can reach my fellow Africans.”
“I have had Afrikaans people ask me to write Afrikaans music. I am considering it. I think I will collaborate with a friend of mine who is Afrikaans.”
What is the main idea/theme behind the album, what was your inspiration?
“This is just me saying that I am coming out of my comfort zone and my shell. It is telling people that I am breaking out. Even the sequence of the tracks is telling a story. My first track is ‘Destiny’, which is basically saying that I have been through a lot ,I have seen a lot, I have suffered through a lot from a very young age and now, because I have this drive and passion, I know that I am headed forward . I am talking about my journey. A lot of the tracks are metaphoric. Track 9, ‘Hear my pain’, is me talking about the pain of losing my mother and sisters. We all go through pain and have all had a dent in our hearts. It empathises with anyone who has ever lost someone they love. My album is telling my story and journey.”
“I have been out of the music scene for a while. I only used to listen to musical theatre music. The actual sound of the album is old school but modernised into Afro Pop. Brenda Fassie opened my mind and made me pay attention to realise I could follow my dreams. She has mainly influenced me, but there are so many.”