Connect with jazz pianist, electronic musician and producer Zibusiso Makhathini in his family home as he describes his ongoing journey of musical exploration.

Travelling to KwaZulu-Natal, the Insider SA join Zibusiso Makhathini to learn about his inspirations and early days practicing scales on his father’s keyboard. Also known as ZibuMac, this highly skilled musician has defied the norm by combining the traditional sounds of jazz with electronic music.

A jazz pianist, electronic musician and producer, ZibuMac has drawn inspiration for his roots and exposure to music at an early age. Hailing from the town of uMtshezi Estcourt, about 25 km south of the Tugela River crossing, Zibusiso took us back to his roots, to show us where his musical career began.

The 4th born of a large, loving family who have grown up with a shared love of music, Zibusiso went to school at Drakensview Primary School, where he was heavily involved in the arts.

His education helped unlock his potential and inspire his different way of looking at the world around him. Zibusiso owes much of his passion for music to this time at school, Having served as an enthusiast member of the choir throughout his school career.

Growing up, he’d often visit his late grandmother, where he was exposed to traditional jazz, maskandi and mbhaqanga. In his own home, he enjoyed watching his musical parents perform.

Many of his interests and passions were nurtured by his dad, Thembinkosi, a pianist, and his mom, Khethiwe, who used to sing. Thembinkosi and Khethiwe encourage all their children to reach for the stars and follow their dreams.

Thembinkosi showed us a beloved, crinkled photograph of Zibusiso sitting on a piano bench, fingers hovering mid-air above the keyboard. Thembinkosi reflects on this moment, sharing, “Every time I played the piano he would come and sit next to me. So, I took this photo to show him when he was older – to remind him where he came from.”

Teaching Zibumac to play the keyboard became Father-and-Son time they both looked forward to. Zibumac adds, “This keyboard is very sentimental to me because I spent so much time with my dad learning and trying to develop myself and trying to create music.”

Training at The Durban Music School, Zibusiso obtained a degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and has represented his province at the Oslo jazz festival in Norway.

Zibusiso attributes some of his earlier tastes and styles to wanting to be cool like his older siblings who were DJ’ing and dancing at the time. This led him to explore a diversity of other genres, from alternative to house. Now, Zibusiso’s brother praises him, sharing, “Seeing my brother reach the heights that he’s reached is very impressive and it makes us obviously very proud.”

Already having worked with some of the biggest names in music, including the likes of Zakes Bantwini, Zethe, Mbuso Khoza, King Sfiso, and Benny Maverick, Zibusiso Makhathini remains committed to sharing his music and the power that comes with it, with those around him.

“My goals for the future is to bring people together with the sole purpose of helping them to overcome whatever they might be going through, and to help them to stay positive no matter what,” shares Zibusiso.

Keep an ear out for the powerful notes of Zibusiso’s work, as he continues to play his way up the music ladder and into the hearts of music-lovers and curious listeners alike.