‘The day my father chased me from CBZ A-Academy’

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Showbiz Correspondent

AH, udingani la? (What are you doing here?)” These are words that praise poet Albert Nyathi uttered in shock when his son Xolisani walked into the audition room during the CBZ A-Academy music talent search show auditions in 2008.

The CBZ A-Academy was Zimbabwe’s premium star search that birthed the likes of gospel musicians; Eric Moyo, Mkhululi Bhebhe, Afro Pop star Ammara Brown and R&B musician, Jonah Sithole. 

The auditions were at Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel and Albert was one of the judges. After the then 17-year-old Xolisani sang Chris Brown’s song With You, he waited anxiously for the result. 

“A day before auditioning, I went to see my father at the auditions’ venue and I thought I could make the grade. So the following day, I went and as I walked into the room, my father was visibly surprised to see me. 

“I was unfazed as I sang what I thought was my best. At the end of it all, he simply said no,” said Xolisani.

All this was beamed live on ZBCtv and the expression on Albert’s face was priceless. 

Recounting the events that led to him being chucked out of the competition after his brave stunt, Xolisani said: “I can sing but because of the fact that he’s my father, he couldn’t let me through because people would think that it’s favouritism. My performance was actually fairly good.” 

And Xolisani’s father remembers the day like it was yesterday. 

“It was a funny thing that happened that day. I was seated there after a long laborious day of auditioning with many good artistes. Lo and behold, my son right in front of me. That’s when I said ‘ah udingani la?’ It was comical,” said Albert. 

After Xolisani sang, Albert concurred that he was good, but said his son could not make the grade.

“After Xolisani sang, the other judges made their comments about his performance. They made the task very difficult for me as they said the decision whether he’d make it through or not was mine. I just had to be strict and not let him go through. 

“He can sing and has a better singing voice than I. However, after all the people who had come through to audition; I felt that it was going to be unfair to let him through. There were many people way better than him that we had turned away,” said Albert. 

From this rejection by his own father, Xolisani said he was saddened and vowed not to do music. And true to his decision, Xolisani decided to take up acting and is involved in many productions on camera and on the theatre stage.

“After the A-Academy rejection, I started acting. I joined a drama series that aired on ZBC in 2016 titled Dirty Necklace which featured the likes of Nothando Nobhengula, Charlene Mangweni and Charity Dlodlo. Willis Wataffi and I played the main roles. 

“At the moment, I act on KuChina the Genesis that is broadcast on ZBCtv every Thursday. It’s a drama series produced by Bless Gatsi and I act as Jordan with the likes of Tinopona Katsande.”

Xolisani, who is studying media at the Midlands State University, said his father advised him not to get into music as it does not pay. 

“My dad doesn’t want me to do music because he has been through it and he knows how it’s like in terms of finances but I want to give it a try. This is because of the love I have for music.”

As such, he has decided to manage artistes and a few months ago, he met Gwanda-based house musician Grace Ndlovu aka Cutie G who he is now managing.

“I felt like it was time I do something to do with music as I didn’t want to just give up on it. I believe this is my legacy and although I’m based in Harare, charity begins at home koBulawayo. In Harare, I’ve opportunities to do some collabos with established artistes, but I want to start with those who are unknown from my rural area in Gwanda then Bulawayo,” said Xolisani. 

Xolisani, who sees Cutie G as someone who will boost his profile in the entertainment industry, has already secured a gig for her. She is billed to perform at The Vibes Music show taking place at Centre Pub and Grill in Gwanda on August 24. 

“I feel as if I’m not making an impact in the industry because no one knows me. But I believe with what I’m about to start with Grace, I’ll make an impact at least,” said Xolisani.