Home Lifestyle From humble beginnings to working with John Legend, Mthandazo Gatya unpacks his...

From humble beginnings to working with John Legend, Mthandazo Gatya unpacks his journey


Mthandazo Gatya opens up about his life, his journey in music and working with American singer-songwriter and pianist John Legend.

Singer, songwriter and performer Mthandazo Gatya. Picture: Lophoto Films

Mthandazo Gatya opens up about his life, his journey in music and working with American singer-songwriter and pianist John Legend.

HARD work and dedication truly are the tools required to bring all of your dreams to life, including passion for the craft.

One individual who has shown that over the years through sweat, blood and tears is singer and songwriter, Mthandazo Gatya.

Known by his full name in the music industry, Gatya first had his big break in 2010 when he won a prize on the local reality competition show “Jam Alley”. The win ensured he was recognised by the industry and potential fans.

He is best known for topping the charts with his hit song “Senzeni​”, featuring DJ Manzo SA and Comado. The hit single also brought about many opportunities for him. It took Gatya close to a decade to achieve a breakthrough in the music industry with “Senzeni”.

In a recent chat with Independent Media Lifestyle, he opened up about his resilience and why he put in the work in his career.

Singer, songwriter and performer Mthandazo Gatya. Picture: Lophoto Films

Gatya started singing in primary school as part of the school choir and joined the school choir again in high school.

In 2009, he started recording his own music but it was only in 2010 that he realised he had potential in the music business.

Gatya said winning on “Jam Alley” gave him the push and courage to never look back.

“Like most black kids, my dream was referred to as insanity and laziness by the family. I lacked support, and in the process, I had to live with handouts.

“I lived with friends because I also got disowned as I was raised by my extended family after the passing of my mother. Hard as it was, I kept my eyes on the prize,” he said.

Gatya said collaborating with all the producers he has collaborated with was never a challenge at all because he was prepared.

“I had already studied them and knew exactly what to expect; it is everyone I have always dreamt of working with, and I had prepared myself for when that comes. I always knew the time would come because I am a spiritual person, my whole career is driven by faith.

“I always tell people that a dream is actual communication between yourself and God. What you dream of is actually God telling you what he has in store for you if you believe and work hard,” he said.

While he was enjoying the fruits of his labour, Gatya was recently blessed with the opportunity to work with John Legend after he discovered him through a challenge he had on TikTok for his song “Nervous”, which Gatya gave an African touch to and took the world by surprise.

When the American singer-songwriter and pianist responded to the remix, he was thrilled and excited that he’d noticed him, which made him gain more confidence in his craft.

“I met John Legend a while back at SunBet Arena. He discovered me through a TikTok challenge he had put out for his song ‘Nervous’. I remade the song in IsiZulu, and it took the world by storm.

“He saw my challenge clip that I posted and replied with fire emojis, and at that very moment I felt something great was coming.”

Recently, the video started going viral on X, and that is when we started seeing the likes of Black Coffee being tagged on the post. He also showed interest as people were asking him to link up with John Legend and change my life.

His response was, “Let’s Go John.”

“The following week my manager got a call at midnight; strangely, he was up at that time, and he picked up the phone, and the person calling told my manager that if there were any interviews scheduled for me that day he should make sure he reschedules them for another day as there is something that is going to change my life.

“They told him that I am needed for a corporate gig at SunBet Arena by no later than 10am.

“In the morning, we drove to the arena and were there by 9am. We were then called inside by 10am. We went inside, and the organisers asked if I had any clue why I was there, and I told them that I was told I was doing a corporate gig.

“They then tell me that John Legend is in the country and has asked them to get hold of me because he would like to meet and perform with me.

“And that was the moment my life changed as we later had the song remixed by Black Coffee, and it is yet to be released,” explained Gatya.

Gatya said there is so much to look forward to as he has collaborated with many artists from across the world and has new music coming out, including a global Afrobeat EP, which he will be dropping soon.

Last year he was nominated twice at the Metro FM Awards for “Best Male Artist” and “Best House Song”.

Gatya said that these nominations meant a lot to him and assured him that his hard work on his craft was finally being recognised.

“I feel happy to be recognised, but my biggest achievement is winning the hearts of the people, touching them through the music,” he said.

Gatya looks up to Black Coffee, Sun-EL Musician and Chymamusiq because they have always stayed true to their sounds and were not shaken by waves and trends.

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