Interview: Ayanda Khumalo

Sep 01 2023

As Ayanda Khumalo releases his much-anticipated single "Joyful Joyful (You're the One)", Louder Than The Music chats with this talented singer and songwriter about his background in music, and plans to release a new album.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

Thank you for the privilege and honor to share a little more about my story in God’s grandeur story. I grew up in a musical and creative family, my mother being a former music teacher and my late father listening to nearly every type of music you could find. We had over 50 LP Vinyls in the house, I think we still have them somewhere in my parents home. I was introduced to music at the tender age of 4 and started playing the drums at 5 years old. I started doing theatre and poetry presentation at the age of 7 all thanks to my father and mother seeing the gift in me. I started my first “boy band” at the age of 10 which was called “Guy and 4 Men”, based off Boys 2 Men, the only difference being we were all young boys and far from being men.

When I went into high school and played in our high school praise and worship band as the drummer and also sang, so I did the Phil Collins thing for about 2-3 years. I will say during my time in high school I would write poetry for guys, who would then pass it onto their girlfriends as if they wrote it. It was lucrative business until the Lord strongly rebuked me and said the gift of songwriting he gave me was for the local global church and not my little “Hallmark” business. It was at this point I realized I had the gift of lyric & songwriting, and it started. After high school, I played rugby at the Junior Rugby World Cup for my country.

I was at a crossroads in my life as I was offered numerous contracts to play rugby professionally in Europe or commit to full time ministry and also be with my family. I felt the Lord saying I needed to stay and not go play rugby so I took a step of faith during a time when the country was going through so much economic and political struggles. I took a break for a few months to rest and recover and then went into serving in the church and playing church music full time. At this point it all snowballed, as I started writing and recording in our small church studio, while traveling the world, leading musical worship. I then moved to Chicago for further bible and music school at Moody Bible Institute and the Lord brought more people into my life on this journey of making music.

Tell us about your new single 'Joyful Joyful (You're The One)' and what the inspiration behind it was?

As someone who gets to travel the world singing and leading in various cultural settings I have always seen myself as being multicultural in my thinking and multi genre in my music. I try fuse genres and styles into my music and also honor those who have gone before me by using what the Lord gave them. When I was reading up on the background story of Joyful, Joyful we adore Thee by Henry van Dyke, I was captivated by his description of the song the Lord gave him. In summary he said that this song was a mere snapshot of the description of joy we find in Christ Jesus. I fell in love with Henry van Dyke’s heart in this song and then decided to add a chorus/refrain to summarize what was on my heart in response to every verse van Dyke wrote. In a world where fun is fleeting and there is so much tragedy around us, we need to lift our eyes to the author and perfecto of our faith.

The song is taken from your forthcoming album, what more can you tell us about the album?

In 2019, I went through so many life challenges, a good friend was in a tragic car accident that has left him with some physical and mental challenges, and my greatest fan and critic, my father past away. All of this really shook me to the core and in all of this I had only one place to run and that was to Jesus. Covid, the degradation of civility and politics kicked in and I was honestly frustrated and tired. This sparked a question in my spirit, head and heart, “Where do you stand Ayanda, what are you standing on and in?” The final piece of the puzzle was a relationship that I thought was going well didn’t turn out the way I believed it was going and that same question came up again. The album, “In Jesus” is a vertical declaration of the truths of God’s character and how we trust and hope in Him. There are some amazing people who have come onboard to make this album musically creative, multi genre, multi-generational, multicultural and I am blown away by how God has pulled it all together.

What message would you like people to take from your music?

All things on this earth will fade and fail but in Jesus Christ there is hope and a future that is eternal.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

My music is multi genre so i'd say “Fusion”, I don’t think there is a genre group for it, but I would say as I move forward my music is a mix of various genres. My influences are Hans Zimmer, Snarky Puppy, Salif Keita, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Kirk Franklin, Michael W Smith

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

Andrew Peterson- The intricacies of journeying and wrestling with scripture and the Lord are what I love in his songwriting. His songs are vertical and horizontal on so many levels, in so many different ways.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

Presenting the gospel through creativity and providing a space, moment and way for people to respond to the gospel.

What is your favorite album of all time?

44/876 (Deluxe) Sting & Shaggy- I love the songwriting, collaboration, creativity, ingenuity, message.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

Now we are here- Gladiator Soundtrack

What does the next year hold for you?

Continuing in my role as a worship pastor in my local church, looking to churches, conferences to share this album with across the USA and world, working on a symphonic version project of the upcoming album (In Jesus), finishing up my next kids books (2 of 3 series), and continue building my radio show “Mornings with TK” with Urban Praise Radio (Moody Radio).

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