In the vibrant pulse of Cape Town’s music scene, Nobuhle Ashanti stands out as a unique voice. From her early encounters with Natalie Cole’s melodies to navigating the candid and unfiltered moments in the Concept Records studio, Nobuhle’s narrative unfolds as a blend of raw talent and diverse inspirations, all encapsulated within the dynamic realm of Big Little Concepts. Join us as we peel back the layers to understand what truly defines Nobuhle in the ever-evolving tapestry of South Africa’s creative expression.

Q: Tell us about the origin story of your musical career. Was there a defining moment, a love for a specific genre, or just a spontaneous jam session that sparked it all?

A: I remember enjoying being home and alone as a kid — because I wasn’t allowed to touch any household machines at the risk of damaging them — and playing with my parents’ CD and cassette collection. Them being students at the music college and massive listeners of music themselves, they had quite the library. I would rewind, fast forward, and replay the songs I liked, I was particularly drawn to Natalie Cole’s album, Unforgettable… with Love. That album sparked my deep love for music, and over time, I became obsessed with it — the strings, the standards, the big band, the lyrics, the vocals… everything!

Q: How did it feel rocking out in the iconic Concept Records studio? Did the environment inspire anything unexpected in your performance?

A: I usually don’t perform without a drumkit where my original music is concerned. So, because I was faced with a very last-minute adjustment to not having drums, I was anxious about how it would turn out. However, my band calmed me down in rehearsal and pushed me to embrace the space having no drumkit would provide. I must admit, the rehearsal sounded way better than the recorded performance — which I felt was really beautiful as well!

Also, I feel it’s important for me to note the freedom and support the Big Little Concepts team provides as well. I felt a lot more secure the day of recording simply due to the wholesome energy and their support to help the recording be the best it could be and have everyone feeling great.

Q: We saw a glimpse of your musical magic captured in Big Little Concepts. What message or vibe did you hope to convey through your performance?

A: I just wanted to provide an honest performance and enjoy the sonic space. Having the cameras around and knowing it was a one-take, recorded performance produced a bit of nerves. But I did my best not to give in to “expectation” which would’ve resulted in a rigid and impure performance. It was an opportunity to introduce an alternative, recorded version of some of my original songs.

Q: What other creative outlets fuel your artistic fire besides music? Whether it’s visual art, poetry, or even a killer sourdough starter, share your hidden talents!

A: I find the culinary arts fascinating and enjoy watching, being involved in the process, and enjoying the end result. I enjoy reading both short stories and novels, although I admit it’s been years since I’ve last picked up a book; I enjoyed them thoroughly growing up, and was a means of escape in the same way I describe music to be. I’ve dabbled in painting because it was worth a try, and I’m desperately in need of a lesson or twelve. But it’s good fun and challenges me not to overthink.

Q: As a Cape Town musician, what excites you most about the city’s vibrant music scene? Any hidden gems or unsung heroes you’d recommend checking out?

A: I love that the city holds a number of artists who push their creativity and allow themselves to inspire each other. In a way, we push each other toward progression through sessions, workshops, and even conversations. I appreciate that we’re all trying to better ourselves, and we look to one another for inspiration and support.

Q: What’s on the horizon for you beyond Big Little Concepts? Upcoming gigs, new releases, or any wild dreams you’re chasing – spill the beans!

A: I have recorded new original material at Concept Records last year that I hope to release as a four-track EP this year. I look forward to officially launching my debut album, Bait for steps forward, and “The Making Of” documentary alongside it.

I’m really hoping to keep pushing my original works and looking forward to working with different artists, locally and internationally.

Q: If you could trade musical styles with any local artist for a day, who would it be and why?

A: Peter Ndlala. I’m blown away by his compositions, and he always seems to have the best time. If you’ve heard his music, you’d understand why. It’s really beautiful and so fun to play his music.

Q: What’s the one record that forever holds a special place in your heart? The soundtrack to your childhood, a family heirloom, or a recent discovery that blew your mind – tell us the story behind your musical treasure.

A: There are too many records and stories that I could answer with. I’m going to go with my dad’s debut album because, no matter my age, I get emotional listening to it. I feel I get to know more about him with each listen — how his mind works, what makes him giggle, what he thinks about, etc. It’s a beautiful body of work that I will never stop listening to and will forever be my warm blanket — Down South by Sylvester Mazinyane.

Q: If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?

A: Gretchen Parlato. I feel a lot of my compositions have been influenced by her stylistic approach. I deeply admire her lyricism and use of her vocals. Her band also produces a level of intimacy, discipline, and spunk I hope to one day achieve within my own ensemble.

Q: Ten years from now, how do you hope to be remembered in the Cape Town music scene?

A: As an artist who distinctively drew from “the greats”, nationally and internationally, yet somehow managed to still sound like herself — unique and respected.

Bonus Q: Share a fun fact, a quirky anecdote, or a hidden talent that might not be immediately obvious from your music.

A: I’ve been ridiculously obsessed with musical theatre and musicals since I was a kid — the real classics. I studied the songs, choreography, the script, and even the cast’s names aside from the characters they played, and it brought me so much joy. But eventually, around the age of 9 or 10, I realised I could neither sing nor dance very well… which sucks! But to this day, I watch the classics when I’m alone or feeling down, and it’s been my secret pick-me-up.

In the dynamic landscape of Cape Town’s music scene, Nobuhle Ashanti emerges not just as an artist but as a distinctive voice marked by authenticity and dedication. Beyond the lens of Big Little Concepts, she looks forward to upcoming releases, a debut album, and dreams of local and international collaborations. Nobuhle’s legacy is more than homage to the greats; it’s about crafting a unique sound that echoes through South Africa’s musical heritage. As she paves her way forward, Nobuhle Ashanti invites us to witness the ongoing journey of an artist whose melody surpasses expectations, leaving an enduring imprint on Cape Town’s musical evolution.

Don’t miss a beat — explore Nobuhle Ashanti’s world, feel the rhythm, and immerse yourself in her sonic journey by hitting play on Big Little Concepts’ YouTube channel. Your ears (and soul) will thank you.


I can’t play any musical instruments or sing, so this is my contribution to the local music scene — which I love immensely. I can’t touch my toes, but that has held me back only slightly in life. My hobbies include reading, beer, bringing up Let’s Get Local when no one asked, writing, and surprising people with my pool skills. I believe somehow all of this will lead me to Dave Grohl.

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