Naftali’s Mini Bio

Raised in Mamelodi, Pretoria, Naftali’s interest in music sparked as early as his primary school career where he found his voice through school concerts and refined it all through high school. It became clear that his voice was not something to be passed over as it became more unique with the refinement of his ear, taking interest in South, West and East African melodic styles and fusing those with his own.

With dedication and a growing confidence, Naftali created his own band, The Royal Family, consisting of bass, drums, keys, guitars, voice, trumpet and tenor saxophone. However, the size of the band meant that Naftali would have to initiate a more fluid means of performance, minimizing where necessary ensuring ease of travel and broader access to his music. In this innovative process Naftali and the Royal Family have worked with a number of different musicians within varying musical styles, allowing him to explore a variety of sounds of expression as an artist and enrichen his musical dialogue with the people. His dedication and talent have allowed him to play shows all over South Africa and neighbouring countries.

2013 - 2014 saw the birth of a collaboration between Naftali of the Royal Family and prolific jazz musician Sibusile Xaba, a young, talented South African guitarist and songwriter who has seen great local and international acclaim and continues to grow exponentially. The duo released Naftali’s self titled debut EP/Single and have traveled and performed in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, sharing their music across the globe.

It is hard not to find oneself comforted by Naftali’s voice which seems textured with pastoral care. One’s ear need not be acquainted with Naftali’s sound for the first chords of his harmonics to greet you with familiarity. With nostalgic rhythmic fusions of soul, roots raggae, maskandi, and mbaqanga, Naftali weaves delicate melodic deviations between the things we know and the things he is telling us. His gentle yet precise decisions regarding instrumentation, temporality, and tone secure a guided tour through times and spaces that are as familiar to us as they are underrated.

With the release of this single “Kea shwa” Naftali invites us into a heartfelt ballad that is as much a celebration of an all consuming love as it is an aching lament. Just as your ear ebs on the warm and fulfilling harmonies on entry, you are left devastated by the announcement “u ile, u ile lerato la pelo yaka” but no sooner have you come to understand the loss than you are oddly comforted by a hook that accepts defeat yet somehow manages to be uplifting in its surrender.

It is a generous gesture for Naftali to walk with us through these oddly familiar plains both musically and conceptually whilst showing restraint lyrically and allowing us to decide where we fit in this story of love and loss. But more generous is his practice of musical archiving that is packed with reference as far as roots...

ZAPretoria, South Africa
In operation since: 
Anglophone Western Africa