Previously unemployed musician now has a permanent gig at the resort
Ephraim Mkhwanazi was unemployed until the day he walked into the restaurant at Sun International’s beach-side resort, Wild Coast Sun, and asked to play a few songs on the piano.
Now a firm favourite of the guests, he serenades those at Lagoon Bar with old favourites such as Lionel Richie’s “I don’t know much, but I know I love you” and Tshepo Tshola’s “Papa”.
Mkhwanazi was familiar with Wild Coast Sun, having trained there in 2019, and returning last year to be a porter. General Manager Peter Tshidi was impressed with his piano playing skills and asked him to play on weekends.
This got Mkhwanazi noticed by a day guest, himself an artist, who heard him play and asked to informally collaborate with him on weekends when he was on site. “That’s how the weekend play started. He has had numerous informal collaborate with other guests, celebrity guests and staff,” says Tshidi.
Mkhwanazi comes from a Christian family background and used to perform during church services and Sunday school. He then got a scholarship to study science at University of Zululand, taking music as an elective and specialises in playing the piano and guitar.
“Having someone like Mkhwanazi play for us forms part of our aim to identify and nurture local talent,” says Tshidi. “This is one of our transformation and community development initiatives through which we aim to improve the lives of the community members in which our casino operates.”
Mkhwanazi said, “I am grateful to the Wild Coast Sun Casino and the General Manager, Mr. Tshidi for giving me this opportunity to showcase my talent and passion to guests”.
As part of Wild Coast Sun’s aim to nurture local talent, Mdu Masilela, a kwaito music legend, mentored artists during its talent search in 2020. The mentorship program is designed to empower the artists and teach them about the entertainment industry.
The mentorship workshop ended with a resolution that each artist would send short clips of their performances to Masilela to review, scrutinize and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. He also committed to assisting the best he could to empower Bizana artists, expose them to the international market and increase Bizana’s popularity in so far as entertainment is concerned.
“We’re proud of our contribution to the arts, which is often a neglected field as well as to support artists within our community,” concludes Tshidi.