Unlike lead guitarists and singers, drummers do not lead from the front, unless they happen to be Kesivan Naidoo – a drumming prodigy who has already worked with many industry greats. East London-raised Naidoo literally fronts his eponymous band Kesivan and the Lights. With a critically acclaimed first album, Instigators of the Revolution under his belt, Naidoo (a Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner) has another on the way. The album, which will include tracks inspired by Madiba’s original speech on his release from prison has already landed him the gig of a lifetime.

“My uncle Marcus Solomon spent 10 years in jail with Mandela so the release and the speech was a big thing in our family. I presented that tune, “The Bridge”, at this random gig and in the audience were the directors of New York’s Carnegie Hall. On the 30th of October next year they’ve booked us to play there as part of a South African ’20 years of Democracy’ celebration.”

Incidentally, that gig happened at Naidoo’s successful Cape Town jazz bar, The Mahogany Room. While it’s not Carnegie Hall, it was given a Great Jazz Venue Award by Downbeat magazine (the jazz bible) last year. That’s the equivalent of a Michelin star in the jazz world. It’s a first for any establishment in Africa and it has given serious credibility to the work Naidoo and his business partner and fellow musician Lee Thompson have put into their fledgling establishment.

Judging by the remarkable upward arc of his career thus far, we wouldn’t be surprised that when Naidoo is old and crusty he will be spoken of in the same reverential tones as the jazz legends of today.

#BestAdvice: Work your muscles
“Managing your energy is almost more important than managing time. If you don’t have the adequate energy to deal with what you allocate time for, you won’t be effective during that time. You only have so much energy to spend.”

*By Tudor Caradoc-Davies