The music of Naftali and the Royal Family is akin to that of a griot, keeper, and orator of history. Synchronicities between cultural events, tradition, history, and artistic expression are drawn by the band. The songs are mostly written in Sepedi and accompanied by percussion, flute, harmonica, guitar, and the kora, providing music that is both reverent, beautiful, and challenging. When listening to Naftali and the Royal Family, one term that comes to mind is “revolutionary”. The kind that is rich in detail without ever attempting to establish its complexity.
The songs belong to a distinct genre of African music that is neither traditional nor pop, and the instruments used are as diverse as the music. Each instrument is chosen for its musical character rather than ethnic flavor, and little attention is paid to anything beyond the final piece. The soundscapes span the globe, with traces of Mali, Algeria, and, of course, reggae’s all-pervasive grooves. This is a modest musical gem including some of the most innovative (and amusing) musicians, and the outcome is nothing short of enchanting.
Naftali Kholofelo Mphago (Vox, Harmonica)
Bakwezi (Bass guitar, Backing vox)
Bolepu Mathabatha (Kora, Flute, Guitar)
Emmanuel Quaye (Percussion)
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Raised in Mamelodi, Pretoria, Naftali’s interest in music sparked early while still at primary school. He found his voice at school concerts and refined it all through high school. It became clear that his voice was not something to be overlooked, as he fused South, West and East African melodic styles with his own.
With dedication and a growing confidence, Naftali created his own band, The Royal Family. The band has worked with a number of different musicians with varying musical styles. Naftali has performed on several stages around the world including Le festival Banlieues Blues (France), Clandestino Festival (Sweden), Roskilde (Denmark), Fete de la musique, Oppikoppi, MTN Bush Fire, Smoking Dragon, Rocking the Daisies, State Theatre Mafalala Festival, among others.
2013 – 2014 saw the birth of a collaboration with prolific jazz musician Sibusile Xaba, a young, talented South African guitarist and songwriter. The duo released Naftali’s self-titled debut EP/Single and have travelled and performed in Germany, France, Italy and Switzerland, sharing their music across the globe.
With the release of this single “Kea shwa” in 2021, Naftali invites us into a heartfelt ballad that is as much a celebration of an all-consuming love, as it is an aching lament.