Amanzimtoti artist keeps Madiba’s legacy alive

Inspired by the life and character of Nelson Mandela, Amanzimtoti pianist, composer and arranger Burton Naidoo will perform the world premiere of his latest creation ‘Our Song’ at the Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College.

Naidoo has performed throughout the world and continues to push boundaries of his musical imagination. His latest offering is a solo piano performance, where he has transcribed some of Mandela’s most iconic speeches. The words of the speeches are ‘pitch-classed’ and harmonised in the effort to create a musical backdrop to these important pieces.

In his only appearance at this year’s festival, Naidoo has written new compositions specially to complement his performance. “In all honesty, I don’t know of other iconic speeches having been transcribed into original music,” said Naidoo.

“Growing up, I used to hear of this name, Nelson Mandela. My dad was a politician, so I remember him mentioning Mandela’s name very often in conversations with my mother and friends. I think that I was already intrigued by this man who I had not even seen up to that point. I somehow knew that this was an important person. I was 10-years-old when Madiba was released. I remember watching the footage on TV at home. I had many questions at the time.

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The idea (for Our Song) started in 2006, when I did the first transcription. Up to this point, it has just been an erratic process of transcribing the speeches as often I am in love with the idea. I have always been able to hear the melody in people’s voices. Speech has the same construct as a piece of music, phrasing, punctuation, articulation, rhythm, and even key. I remember thinking that there’s no better person to explore this concept on, than the words of Mr Mandela.”

Our Song will be presented to an audience for the first time at the festival on Saturday, 15 September at 2pm, and thereafter Naidoo hopes to tour it national at other music festivals and hopefully take it internationally.

READ ALSO: Amanzimtoti artist brings latest music ‘Closer to Home’

For more information on the festival, visit or like the Facebook page, Hilton Arts Festival. Follow on Twitter @HiltonFest and Instagram. All enquiries on 033-383-0126/7 or email The full programme is on


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