Neville Diedericks, (Neville D), a Cape Town-born Gospel/R&B singer, Dove Award winner and now a Grammy-nominated songwriter, is a 37-year-old husband and father of four, who has worked with the likes of Loyiso Bala, Ernie Smith, Joyous Celebration, Khaya Mthethwa, Jakkie Louw and Judith Sephuma.
He has been nominated in the category Best Gospel Performance/Song for the hit How Awesome Is Our God, co-written with his friend, and music icon, Israel Houghton. Diedericks is the sixth South African artist to ever be nominated for a Grammy.
What does being nominated for a Grammy Award mean to you?
After more or less 20 years in the industry, it feels like I’ve just graduated as a songwriter. I’ve always written songs the same way, it’s just that this time around it’s been recognised on a Grammys’ level.
This means that a lot more people are going to see what I’ve been up to for the last 20 or so years.
Who are the music veterans you draw inspiration from?
There are so many. I grew up listening to Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Michael McDonald, Michael Jackson and so on. On the gospel front Andraé Crouch, The Winans, The Hawkins and Jimmy Swaggart have always been my favourites. Locally, I was always inspired by Bayete, Brenda Fassie, the Christian Explainers and Solid Foundation.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your 20 years in the industry?
I’ve learnt that you’re going to have to stick it out and pay your dues. You cannot feel sorry for yourself. Bite the bullet and stop making excuses. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get tough – it does. But there’s a quote that says: “Do you remember the guy who gave up? Neither does anybody else.” So you cannot give up.
What has been the most defining moment in your career?
There’s not a single moment, but rather a series of things. The most defining moment for me was deciding whether to stay in South Africa or not, after being granted the opportunity to go to the States. I decided to stay and many people thought that it was not the best decision I’ve made. To be honest, I thought that too. But it turned out to be the best decision.
It’s one thing to think about it, but it’s another thing to be granted the opportunity. So if you say no, how is this going to affect your life?
What aspirations do you have for the music industry in South Africa?
There are many South African artists who already believe in themselves, and I like that. I would like to see more of that. I would like us to understand that as a continent, we have amazing talent right here, we should really believe in ourselves. There are many things we would like to work towards, like the quota system. If people are hearing 90% international music and 10% local music on the radio, then they will obviously favour the one above the other. That’s a tough one, but I’d love to see the media houses aid artists in this regard.
What inspires your songwriting process?
I’m inspired by many things like recreational activities, family outings and sports, but after some analysis, I’ve found that for myself, reading, whether it’s the Bible or reading books, inspires me to write new music. I’m not talking about reading your Twitter feed. I love reading about history and science – it really inspires me.
What’s happening for Neville D post-Grammys?
The big thing on the calendar is the Beauty of Difference Season 3 recording, on 26 November 2016. I can’t let any cats out of the bag yet, but there are many surprises in store.
Who do you dream of collaborating with?
One of the female artists I’d love to collaborate with is Celine Dion. I’m not sure if it will ever happen, but then again, I didn’t think being nominated for a Grammy Award would ever happen!