Urban Zulu still holds onto her rooted origins of Zulu Culture within the Kasi culture at Kwa-Thema in Springs, east of Gauteng Province, where she was born and raised.
She is fortunate to have traveled the world and performed on big stages with renowned artists such as the likes of PJ Powers, Hugh Masekela, Hotstix Mabuse, Holly Rey, Cassper Nyovest, The Atomic bomb, Adre, Idris Elba, Africa Express, Beyonce, UB40, Angélique Kidjo, to name a few.
Born Amanda Nokuthula Nkosi, the 36-year-old is also known as ‘Ntunja’ which means ‘the fortress’. She got her breakthrough in 2013 when she was offered an opportunity to join the legendary globetrotting group The Mahotella Queens.
Urban Zulu however, prefers “to be loved for me, not for my achievements”.
“I believe women empowerment is uplifting, and as females we should support each other regardless of our background, race, culture, status and have each other’s back without looking down on ourselves. We are all different people with different cultures living together, we are brothers and sisters regardless of where we come from. We can live together in harmony and peace,” she said.
Her love for music started at a very young age and she describes herself as bold. Driven by her love for the genre, she made a decision to do cultural music and dance and the rest was history.
“I wanted to make people feel good in the same manner that Merrian Mageba did to me. In 2006, I joined Sunshine Band as a vocalist. I knew I wanted to be a singer so I enrolled with Central Johannesburg College to study popular music.
“I majored in vocal and keyboard technique. I was chosen for an exchange program by Tu Nokwe called Umoja Cultural Flying Carpet… traveling to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Norway for three years.”
From Norway to SA Stage Theatre Productions Africa Umoja, Nail Him, Umkabayi Ka Jama and Spirit and Bones.
Zwelibanzi Sibiya, the manager at Springs Theatre, met Nkosi during Nail Him and they worked together on UMkabayi KaJama. He collaborated with Ntunja on the recently released music album Ntunja NoBhovodlamasaladi.
“You can’t tell Ntunja is Kasi groomed because of her African Spirituality, I collaborated her because she is patient and able to work with others, likes of HeavyK, Private Property, JamSlice, Dickson Bruv UK collaborations,” said Zwelibanzi.
In 2015, Nkosi was among the first ever South African artists to participate at the Cape Town Jazz Festival. In 2014 and 2019 she performed at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and Australia. In 2018 she performed with Cassper Nyovest at the Global Citizen Concert in Soccer City.
Her first single titled “Mali” was released in November 2019 under Ntethe Music Records and it ranked number one on ITunes for two weeks in May 2020 receiving massive airplay in the process.
Nkosi believes that “a successful woman is someone who has dreams, goals and works hard to achieve them, every woman can do great unlike the past when women depended on becoming married and played Amalobola as an achievement”.
“If I had power to stop women abuse, I would empower men especially at a young age so they know how to treat women. It’s bad that we focus more on young girls and forget boys who grow into abusers because they don’t know how to express themselves at a young age.”
Nkosi’s dream in the next five years is to empower children, but she still wants to travel more and export African culture to other nations.