9year old Guitar maestro turns celebrity in PMB


Luthando in action with his favourite musical instrument. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Luthando in action with his favourite musical instrument.

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

A 9-year-old guitar maestro is pulling all the right strings in Pietermaritzburg.

Luthando Jackson, a pupil at Merchiston Preparatory School, has caught the attention of his community in Mountain Rise.

The talented young star appeared on SABC 1’s prime time news bulletin on Monday where his performance at the Tatham Art Gallery the day before was aired.

His father Oupa, 47, said Luthando picked up his first guitar at the age of 7 when he asked his mother Thandeka to buy him a guitar for his birthday.

“She went and bought him a no-name brand guitar and he started playing from the first day he received his present. He started listening to music and repeated what he heard on his toy guitar,” recalled Jackson.

Family concerts

Luthando would practice every day after school, playing songs he heard on the radio, Jackson said.

“No day goes by without him playing his guitar, unless he is ill. Every time he plays we have mini concerts with my wife and his two sisters Andiswa and Mandisa. Sometimes they join in and sing along to what he is playing.”

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Jackson realised six months after Luthando received the guitar that he was talented.

A family friend, director of the Msunduzi Music Centre, Nhlanhla Mnikathi, who is also a guitarist, recognised Luthando’s talent and bought him his first professional guitar, a brown Yamaha guitar.

“We take him very seriously. He always gives me a list of songs to download for him so that he can play. So many people have come to me and said some of the songs he plays are really difficult.”

Jackson said his son loves playing Spanish and classical music.

“Last year we received a scholarship from the school because he is so talented, they told us that even though they were not a musical school, he deserved the scholarship.”

Jackson said he would not push his son into a career in music and would rather have him choose his own career path.

“He can be whatever he wants to be. To us he is a normal child with a special gift. At school he participates in all the activities. He plays rugby, cricket and basketball,” said the businessman.

‘A phenomenal guitarist’

The school’s principal, Dave Beetar, said they were very proud of their little musical maestro.

“He has shown an interest in music. I don’t think the family realises what a talented guitarist Luthando is. He is a phenomenal guitarist,” said Beetar.

He said the school awarded Luthando, who has been with them since Grade 1, a cultural scholarship in recognition of his hard work.

“It is nice for us to bask in his glory, but this is really about him and his family. It’s all about their hard work. We are really proud of them,” Beetar said.

Luthando said he loves the guitar because it challenges him and it is good exercise.

“My favourite artist is James Brass, I love his music. I love playing Isaac Alberniz’s version of Asturias, it’s my favourite song, I love playing it.”

School celeb

Luthando said he doesn’t know where his love for the guitar came from.

“I just love the guitar,” he said.

Luthando performed in his first-ever public concert at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg campus last year.

On Sunday he performed at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg and was excited to see it on televison on Monday.

“I have performed at Unisa as well but my favourite performance was at the Tatham Art Gallery,” said Luthando.

He said he has become a celebrity at school.

“Lots of my friends said they saw me on TV on Monday, it feels great.”

The self-taught guitarist has hopes of becoming a music teacher one day.

“I want to teach other children how to play the guitar because I love music,” he said.

See a video of Luthando showing off his skills below:

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