Mongezi Chris Ntaka is a South African guitarist, composer, arranger, musical director and producer based in Washington, DC. His guitar playing incorporates several Southern African music styles including Kwela, Marabi, Mbaqanga, Mbira, African Jazz and Township music. Mongezi’s musical career started in Johannesburg in the early 1980s through his family contacts at Dorkay House in Johannesburg.
While attending Township music lessons at Dorkay House, he met Ntemi Piliso of the African Jazz Pioneers who later introduced him to Richard Siluma and Peter Moticoe who were producing several artists for Gallo and RPM record labels in Johannesburg.. Later on Richard Siluma suggested that Mongezi work with his cousin, Lucky Dube who was getting ready to go into the studio to record his first live reggae album.
A few years later other great opportunities came along when he started doing some recording session work for West Nkosi and Hamilton Mzimande, two of South Africa’s famous record producers of the 1960s, 70s & 80s and he got introduced to Marks Mankwane and Joseph Makwela of Makgona Tsohle Band that was the backing band for Mahotella Queens. Through his work with Lucky Dube, he signed with Gallo as a recording artist and composer. Mongezi has collaborated with some of South Africa’s celebrated artists and he has wrote and produced several records for record labels in South Africa, Jamaica, the US.
Mongezi has recorded, toured and performed with a wide range of South African and other African artists including the late Lucky Dube, Vusi Mahlasela, the late Hugh Masekela, Jonnas Gwangwa, Dave Mathews, Ray Phiri, Thandi Klaasen, Lorraine Klaasen, the late Oliver Mtukudzi and Habib Koite. His live performances have taken him to all corners of the globe including most parts of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, The Caribbean, North America and South America.
As a young guitarist, Mongezi was instrumental in shaping the reggae sound of the late Lucky Dube. In the early 1990s, he moved to Kingston, Jamaica to collaborate with Jamaican musicians before moving to the United States of America where he now lives. In the US, Mongezi has become a respected artist in African music, culture and history. He continues to conduct African music workshops in schools and colleges, composes music for plays and has music directed various theatre plays including RUINED and SARAFINA. Mongezi also writes soundtracks for documentary films.
Mongezi Ntaka has performed in some of the most well known venues around the world including the Carnegie Hall in New York City, The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Ordway Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota, Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore, The Zenith in Paris, France, FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Namibia’s Independence Celebrations in Windhoek, Namibia, Montreal Jazz Festival in Canada, Reggae Sunsplash in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago’s Emancipation Celebration concert and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
Currently Mongezi is Vusi Mahlasela and Lorraine Klaasen’s musical director and lead guitarist and he still produces Lorraine’s records on Justin Time Records in Montreal, Canada. The NGOMA ZETHU album titled ‘7 Chapters of Mystery’ is his latest project.
Mongezi joined the ECH community to celebrate African heritage and promote his new project Ngoma Zethu on February 13, 20221.