[Fresh Notes] – Ntando Khumalo aka Zōrrow: Crafting Musical Waves of Change, Embracing Identity and Empowering Communities

A melodic journey of passion, resilience and empowerment

Written by Phetolo Sematha, Images by Zōrrow

In the heart of Soshanguve, a young artist with a passion for music and a unique life story is making waves in the music industry. Meet Ntando Khumalo, a 22-year-old sound engineering student hailing from Soshanguve, Pretoria. Known by his stage name Zōrrow, this artist’s journey is a testament to the power of embracing one’s true self and using music as a means to uplift, inspire and effect change.

A life shaped by love and music

Growing up in Soshanguve, Zōrrow’s life was filled with the love of his mother and grandparents. His educational journey at Prinshof School remained remarkably consistent, from Grade 1 to Matric, a choice that raised eyebrows in a world accustomed to transitions. “People usually switch schools when they go from primary to high school,” Zōrrow remarks, adding that his singular path was a source of connection to his roots.

But it’s the musical journey that truly defines Zōrrow’s life. Influenced by his grandfather’s quirky tradition of assigning unusual nicknames, the name Zōrrow became Ntando’s artistic identity. It wasn’t until after his grandparents’ passing that he fully embraced Zōrrow as his stage name, marking a return to his essence, a journey mirrored in his music.

From battles to ballads: a sonic evolution

Zōrrow’s musical journey began with hip-hop, his admiration for Eminem sparking a desire to emulate the legendary rapper. Battling friends in school, he discovered his knack for lyricism and rhythm, consistently surprising himself with victories against formidable opponents. “I recorded my first two songs in high school, and the reception those songs got everywhere I played them cemented the fact that I could actually do this,” Zōrrow recalls.

Zōrrow’s creative spectrum extends far beyond the confines of a single genre. From gospel-infused rap anthems to soul-stirring ballads, his music defies easy categorisation. “My style is worldly, drawing inspiration from the soul instead of my ears,” he explains. This fearless approach to experimentation breathes life into his compositions, creating a unique blend that resonates deeply with listeners.

Crafting melodies and messages

For Zōrrow, the art of creation is a blend of intuition and meticulous attention. Whether in the studio or at home, his songwriting process evolves to suit the moment. “Everything that I put on the song has to feel and sound just right,” he states. This pursuit of perfection extends beyond the music; Zōrrow’s ultimate goal is to uplift and inspire through his art, touching the core of his audience’s being.

Battling doubt and inspiring growth

Zōrrow’s journey hasn’t been without its challenges. The spectre of doubt looms large, both internally and externally. “The biggest challenge, I think, for any musician trying to make a career out of it is doubt,” he admits. However, Zōrrow’s solution to this universal struggle is not to eliminate doubt but to transcend it. “Believe in yourself before everyone else. I swear they will come afterwards,” he asserts, a philosophy that has guided his return from a self-imposed hiatus and continues to propel his artistic trajectory.

Music as a catalyst for change

As an artist with a purpose, Zōrrow channels his creative energies to amplify causes close to his heart. Being albino, he’s committed to raising awareness about albinism, dispelling myths and educating the public about the needs of individuals with albinism. Moreover, he’s dedicated to the empowerment of African communities, advocating for self-improvement and development. “We need to empower and improve ourselves instead of relying on the government,” he emphasises, aligning his musical journey with a greater purpose.

Charting the path ahead

The future holds great promise for Zōrrow. With a vision of international recognition and a desire to shape the industry, he’s set on breaking barriers. “I want to have an actual influence over the industry,” he declares, outlining a trajectory that extends beyond his own artistry to impact the entertainment landscape at large. As he looks ahead to potential world tours, new releases and community projects, Zōrrow’s dedication to growth, empowerment and creating a brighter world through his music shines as a beacon of hope.

Crafting soundscapes: the creative process unveiled

When it comes to crafting a new song, Zōrrow takes us on a journey into the very heart of his creative process. “I’ll listen to a beat and try to sort of feel the beat and all its instruments,” Zōrrow shares. This initial connection with the rhythm and melody sets the stage for the journey ahead. With a discerning ear, he hunts for the “right melody”, a melody that resonates deeply with his emotions and vision.

As the melody takes shape, Zōrrow explains that the lyrical journey often follows. “After writing the first five or six bars, the lyrics of the song will sort of come together and give me a concept to write about,” he elaborates. Sometimes, this concept emerges organically, while on other occasions, it’s born from the nuances of the day or even the weather. The art of songwriting, as Zōrrow describes, is about embracing the ebb and flow, letting ideas ride the waves of creativity.

Chasing dreams: the fuel behind the craft

What keeps an artist like Zōrrow motivated and inspired? “Belief and improvement,” he says with conviction. In an industry where doubts can creep in and external pressures abound, Zōrrow advocates for building self-awareness and focusing on personal growth. “As long as you see your own improvement and know in your heart that this is what’s for you, then never stop,” he affirms.

The path to success is paved with self-motivation, even on the darkest days. Zōrrow encourages fellow musicians to shine their light in those moments and to keep striving and evolving. “Be so good they can’t ignore you,” he asserts, a testament to the power of his unwavering dedication.

Art’s unparalleled impact: a beacon in society

“[Art] is everything. There is nothing without art,” Zōrrow passionately proclaims. His words echo the sentiment that art is a cornerstone of human civilisation. From design to architecture, art weaves through the fabric of society, conveying messages that transcend language and culture.

The profound impact of art, as Zōrrow explains, lies in its ability to communicate without words. “Art touches us in a way nothing else can,” he states. Whether it’s a painting that speaks a thousand words or a wordless melody that evokes deep emotions, art resonates with the soul, offering insights that words alone cannot convey.

Life’s melodies: the source of inspiration

For Zōrrow, the wellspring of inspiration is life itself. “The things I go through, the things other people go through… other creators,” he reflects. The act of creation is deeply ingrained in the human experience, an inherent trait that transcends disciplines. “You as a human being will always create something,” Zōrrow notes, emphasising that creation is innate and omnipresent.

In times when motivation wanes, Zōrrow finds solace in the act of creation. “Motivation is everywhere,” he proclaims, a reminder that the act of crafting, whether it’s writing down thoughts or composing melodies, is always within reach.

Raising Albinism awareness

“As an albino person, my first instinct would be to raise awareness of albino people and their needs,” affirms the artist. In a heartfelt acknowledgement of his personal journey, this artist is driven to shine a spotlight on the unique challenges faced by individuals with albinism. Through his music, he aspires to foster a collective understanding that extends beyond mere tolerance. His focus extends to intricate aspects such as caring for albino babies and individuals – matters as fundamental as skincare and eye protection. This commitment transcends raising awareness; it seeks to cultivate a society that embodies comprehensive knowledge about albinism in all its dimensions.

Defining success: flourishing through art

For Zōrrow, success is not just about financial gains; it’s about flourishing through one’s art in every facet of life. “Flourish through your art not only financially, but also spiritually and mentally,” he affirms. His perspective underscores the importance of holistic growth, ensuring that artistic pursuits contribute to personal well-being.

Fostering connections: the power of collaboration

Navigating the intricate world of music isn’t a solo endeavour for Zōrrow. His network extends beyond fellow artists, encompassing event promoters, live sound engineers and more. “Having a network like that gives me more access to different kinds of opportunities,” Zōrrow shares. Collaborations with diverse industry players have enriched his journey, propelling him to explore new sonic landscapes.

Facing critiques and embracing praise

Criticism is part and parcel of the artistic journey, but Zōrrow takes it in stride. “I actually don’t listen to critics like that,” he confesses. Acknowledging that art is subjective, he emphasises the importance of staying true to his unique vision. The praise he’s received outweighs the criticism, reminding him to focus on his dedicated fan base and his own growth as an artist.

A journey of personal pride

Reflecting on his artistic journey, Zōrrow finds pride in taking the plunge and pursuing his dream wholeheartedly. “Seeing myself today and seeing how close my goals are keeps me here,” he shares. The struggles and doubts that once clouded his path have transformed into the fuel that propels him forward.

As Zōrrow gazes ahead, he does so with a sense of responsibility to those artists who couldn’t make it and a commitment to his own growth. His journey serves as a reminder that embracing one’s calling can inspire not only personal achievement but also a legacy for generations to come.

Evolution in motion: refining the art of promotion

With an eye on the future, Zōrrow is set to evolve in his approach to marketing. “I’m creating a release schedule,” he revealed, a departure from the sporadic releases of the past. Consistent promotion across social platforms, along with strategic budget allocation, forms the backbone of his new strategy. The focus isn’t solely on the music; it’s about creating a holistic experience through content that resonates with fans.

YouTube and TikTok will take centre stage as Zōrrow plans to engage his audience with visual content tied to each release. His goal is to seamlessly synchronise content creation with music drops, offering an immersive journey for fans.

In Zōrrow’s world, creativity is a force that flows, evolving with the changing tides of inspiration. As he continues to create, collaborate and elevate his craft, the artistry of Zōrrow stands as a testament to the profound impact of music on the human experience. With every note, he weaves stories that transcend boundaries, reminding us that, at its core, music is the universal language of the soul.

TikTok: @tpb_zorrow

YouTube: Zōrrow


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