Stimela's frontman Sam Ndlovu on their first album without Ray Phiri

Sam Ndlovu was Ray Phiri's chosen one.

07 August 2018 - 07:00 By Chrizelda Kekana
Stimela is ready to share great music, from left to right: Sam Ndlovu, Mnca Mtshali, Ntokozo Zungu, Sandile Ngema and Thapelo Khomo.
Stimela is ready to share great music, from left to right: Sam Ndlovu, Mnca Mtshali, Ntokozo Zungu, Sandile Ngema and Thapelo Khomo.
Image: Supplied

Approximately a year after the tragic loss of iconic musician Ray Phiri, Stimela is back with a new offering, the first without Ray but the new frontman Sam Ndlovu guarantees that it is well worth everyone's ears.

In an interview with TshisaLIVE, the Stimela frontman, who is now alone since Ray died, shared his gratitude over being part of the legendary group and what it means to him to be there for the release of Catch The Train.

"The title Catch The Train is exactly what Ray would have wanted and that is what we have based it on. Ray would have wanted to show off and say, 'hey, I have left the band in capable hands and I have a legacy in them.'"

Sam explained that he felt blessed to have been chosen by Ray but that it was the spirit of Stimela as a collective that pushed him to do his very best.

"We knew he wanted us to continue and to show that he has passed on the baton to the younger generation too. The worst I could do personally, is fail his memory and the faith he had in me when he brought me into the band."

Sam joined the band in 2010 but explained that his story with Stimela began long before he understood who or what Stimela was.

Sam's father's last gift to him was a bass guitar and a microphone, and from that point on his life's direction was determined. The guitar was only the beginning for Sam, who would go on to play drums, the accordion and later the keyboard.

But all along, he was hiding his voice, until he sang too loud to the wrong (or right people) and they pushed him to explore his singing skills.  

That was when Ray was drawn to him and the rest as they say is history.

"The late, great Ray started to notice me and he got to know me when I was the lead singer for my band Black Chain. And, from that point on, whenever he was at home, in Mpumalanga he would stop by our rehearsal space and give us tips. After that Isaac and the rest of the members would just drop in and help us.

"I didn't know at that point that there was anything special that I was doing until I found myself on stage at a show at Thulamahashe Stadium singing and performing with Stimela."

Almost a decade after Sam was thrown into the deep end by Ray, he's had the opportunity to learn a great deal of things from the late musician himself and a year after Ray's death, Stimela is ready to release music.

The 10-track album allows one to reminisce as they hear the familiar vocal ranges which pay homage to the hits Stimela have created over the years. Sam said even though he didn't want to blow his own horn, he was sure that this album would be right up there with the best of Stimela.

Jabu Sibumbe, Sam Ndlovu, Isaac "Mnca" Mtshali, Thapelo Khomo, Ntokozo Zungu, Sandile Ngema, all got together to create another installment for Stimela and they all can't wait for fans to hear their work.

"Stimela fans have been patiently waiting for this moment and we are more than thrilled at the milestone achieved. The pre-order of Catch The Train the single and eventually the entire album will ensure that true Stimela fans don’t get left behind but are first at the platform to Catch the Train."

Stimela’s single titled Catch The Train, is currently playing on most radio stations across the country and it is available here.