For the past 14 years it has been my immense pleasure to work with legendary South African performer/singer/songwriter/TV cook/writer Nataniël. One of the most difficult things to achieve is trying to explain who and what Nataniël is to people who do not know this unique artist.
I first saw Nataniël live in the Sand du Plessis theatre in Bloemfontein in 1992 when I was still at school. He performed with the Pacofs Symphony Orchestra and sang beautiful songs and told the most bizarre and funny stories in between. He still had a long black ponytail. I was blown away by his humour and musicality. I remember coming home from the show and telling my parents every story I could remember. I was a fan for life.
My high school days had a yearly highlight in the form of a Nataniël performance I could look forward to. His performances contained a blend of music and unique humour I could find nowhere else and I had an instant liking to his style and different approach. His staging and lighting was elaborate and sometimes shocking but always out of this world. My enthusiasm for his work and recordings continued to grow over a number of years until the phone rang in late 1999 and it was Nataniël himself. In his dry tone of voice he said I would not know who he is but he would like to know if I would be interested to play for him. I was speechless. This came as a complete surprise as I had never been introduced to him or played for him before.
In early 2000 this collaborative journey began and I was introduced to a new world. At that stage my plan for my life included conquering the concert platforms of the world and only playing classical piano music. Nataniël introduced me to theatre, press, Patti Labelle, business class flights and gave me the opportunity to perform on stages ranging form Adelaide to Auckland Park and Roodepoort to the Royal Albert Hall.
As an accompanist you get to see behind the scenes and understand the psyche of the singer you work with. Nataniël is much more than just a singer and observing his creative skills as producer, choreographer, composer, chef, writer, and director and ultimately mentor has shaped my vision of the entrepreneur-artist in a way I could never imagine. His work ethic and inventiveness has made him sustain a performing, recording, writing and touring career of 25 years. This has been an immense source of inspiration for me and is an example any young artist would aspire to.
I am now in my 15th year of working with this South African icon and treasure each moment I get to spend on and off stage with him. If you have never been to a live production of Nataniël be sure not to miss his next show. Your life will change.