Q & A with Nkulee Dube
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Nkulee Dube performs Thursday and Friday at Lake Tahoe along with Tosh Meets Marley, an all-star band featuring Fully Fullwood, Tony Chin, Jawge Hughes, Vince Black and Claudio Peppe.
During his career, Nkulee’s father, Lucky, was Africa’s biggest-selling reggae artist. The South African was murdered in 2007 in an attempted carjacking.
The 24-year-old Nkulee Dube has been a dancer and supporting vocalist for Lebo Mathosa and later Ntando Bangani. Her style is most described as ethno-ragga mixed with jazz and soul. She spoke with Lake Tahoe Action’s Tim Parsons earlier this week.
Q Were you and your father close?
A We were like twins.
Q Did he encourage you to become a singer?
A It was a natural thing. As for pushing me, I wish. He really didn’t want us, especially the girls, to be in the industry because he was being a dad about it and he knows how bad the industry could be. He was trying to protect us and keep us away from it.
Q How many brothers and sisters do you have?
A There’s eight of us.
Q How many in the music industry?
A Just two. Bongi, my sister, does like disco house music.
Q Did your dad’s trepidatoin about you entering the music world help you know what to lookout for?
A Exactly. I would see these things with the artists I have backed for. These things he was saying, I would literally see it. Now, as an artist myself, I can recognize it. This is what he was talking about. Let’s stay away from that. … He did put the love of fear in me.
Q He had such a great voice. He must have passed those vocal genes to you.
A I hope so. But mine doesn’t have that high-pitched tone. I have more of a baritone type of a tone. Mine is very low. I can go as high as his was because I’m a girl. But even if I have a section of his voice, I feel very blessed.
Q How do you describe your music style?
A I didn’t want to belong to a certain genre. Obviously reggae is the big umbrella taking care of all these musical styles. I didn’t want to have a sound that is just completely reggae. I didn’t want to have a sound that is completely jazz. So I try to mix the sounds that are in every genre into one song. … It allows me as an artist to spread as far as I can. I can explore any type of song there is in the world.
I describe my music as freedom.
Q The music I am most familiar with is blues, and a lot of blues fans disdain anything that is not straight-ahead, 12-bar blues. Does that occur with reggae fans, too?
A There are some, actually, fans like that. But it’s my job as an artist to sell me. (I tell them) I know that you are 100 percent reggae, but this is what I do. That’s my job and not to continue what everyone else is doing. I am doing what I want to do, so when people come to my shows, even if it’s a completely reggae audience, I am showing them a different type of reggae. Obviously there are hard core roots reggae people who may be offended and, as an artist, you just have to show them that’s how Nkulee does it.