Todd Tozama Matshikiza was a South African jazz pianist, composer, and journalist. Find out about his net worth. As a journalist, Matshikiza was a contributor to the innovative South African magazine Drum and is known for his autobiographical short stories. As a musician, Matshikiza was celebrated for composing the score of the musical King Kong.
Who is Todd Matshikiza?
Born in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa, Matshikiza came from a musical family. He was the son of Samuel Bokwe Matshikiza and Grace Ngqoyi Matshikiza, the seventh of seven children. He graduated from St Peter’s College in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, and obtained a diploma in music at Adams College in Natal, and a teacher’s diploma at Lovedale Institute in Alice.
He stayed on as a teacher at Lovedale, where he taught English and Mathematics at the high school, until 1947. During this period, Matshikiza composed songs and choral works, blending African traditional and European-classical styles; in particular, Hamba Kahle, which has become a standard work for choral groups throughout South Africa. It was performed for the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom at Bulawayo in 1946 and for the Johannesburg Music Festival in 1950.
Todd Matshikiza career
Matshikiza moved to Johannesburg in 1947 and married Esme Sheila Mpama in 1950. They had two children: daughter Marian Linda and son John Anthony. He taught for a while and founded the Todd Matshikiza School of Music, a private music school, where he taught piano.
Jazz and composing remained his primary interests; however, in order to supplement the family income, he worked briefly for Vanguard Booksellers in Johannesburg. From 1949 to 1954, Matshikiza was a committee member of the Syndicate of African Artists, which group aimed to promote music by visiting artists from the townships.
In 1952, Matshikiza was invited to join Drum magazine which, under new editorial direction, aimed for a more critical readership. Matshikiza, together with investigative journalist Henry Nxumalo, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Nat Nakasa, Bloke Modisane, and others, became one of its early writers.
His jazz column covered the township scene, particularly Sophiatown, where he commented on the likes of Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela, who both played for The Jazz Epistles. Matshikiza covered township life in his regular column “With the Lid Off”. Amongst his close associates, his writing style became known as “Matshikese”, and was characterized by creative and playful use of syntax and a musical style. His association and friendship with Drum Deputy Editor Anthony Sampson endured for the rest of his life. He briefly worked for the Golden City Post.
His love of classical music inspired him to compose the choral piece Makhaliphile in 1953, which he dedicated to Trevor Huddleston, who had worked with less-favored communities in Johannesburg. This was a combination of classical, jazz, and traditional themes. In 1956, he composed Uxolo (peace), commissioned for the 70th anniversary of Johannesburg.
In 1958, Matshikiza composed the music and some of the lyrics of the jazz musical King Kong, which had an all-black cast. Portraying the life and times of heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, popularly known as “King Kong”, this musical was a hit in 1959.
It attracted multi-racial audiences and was performed in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth, before being staged at the Prince’s Theatre in London’s West End in 1961. Matshikiza’s interest in the boxer stemmed in part from his having been assigned to cover the trial of Dlamini. King Kong launched the international career of Miriam Makeba, who played the shebeen queen of the Back of the Moon, a shebeen (illicit bar) of the time in Sophiatown.
Matshikiza composed the music for Alan Paton’s play Mkhumbane, which opened in Durban on 29 March 1960. The musical, in a-Capella form, recounts the trials of a grass-roots community whose daily lives are affected by forced removal and the actions of gangsters.
Todd Matshikiza net worth: How rich is he?
As at the time this article was written, the net worth of Todd Matshikiza was not made public.