In the last five years, the South African music scene has seen an influx of young people who have helped change the way African music is made and perceived. If you want to talk about artists who have never shied away from their roots while still providing listeners with those modern pop beats that Africans love so much, then you absolutely cannot afford to ignore Sphelele Dunywa.
Popularly called ‘Danya Dev’ by the South African populace, Sphelele Dunywa is a musician, rapper, and songwriter best known for being a member of the recently famous Afro-pop group Blaq Diamond. Ever since Blaq Diamond came on the scene, the lighter-skinned half of the duo has charmed music lovers with his soulful melodies and unique musical flow. The self-proclaimed ‘Nkosi Yoshuni’ (King of Tune) has caught not just our ears but our eyes, and figuring out what makes him so intriguing is a source of constant banter among his ever-growing fan base.
The Blaq Diamond Hit Maker is a Zulu Native
Sphelele Dunywa spent most of his childhood in his birthplace, Ladysmith, a small city located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. He was born in 1994 to parents whose names are unknown. He attended Aloe Park Primary School, also in Ladysmith. He has often said that growing up so close to his roots spilled over into his music which is why, 20 years later, his music draws heavily from his Zulu roots.
Many South African artists work under the assumption that cultural music is “boring,” Dunywa says. The Loveletter crooner stressed how hard it was in the beginning for people to understand and appreciate his music. He and his bandmate had to work part-time in between recording sessions to raise enough money to promote their music. However, their efforts paid off pretty quickly as more and more people began to appreciate the duo’s Afro-pop sound infused with elements of Maskandi and Mbube, which are traditional Zulu sounds.
His Nickname ‘Danya Dev’ Is A Pun On His Name – Sphelele Dunywa
Sphelele Dunywa has described his music genre as Afro-pop House music infused with hip-hop and traces of soul. When he was younger, he used to participate a lot in sports and singing competitions. He, however, began his musical career as a rapper and adopted the nickname “Danya Dev,” which is a pun on his real name. The Danya Dev alter ego has encouraged him to push himself beyond what he thought was possible and aim for the stars. Judging by how well he is doing, his hard work certainly paid off. In 2010, he joined Ndumiso Mdletshe to form the Pop group, Blaq Diamond.
How Sphelele Dunywa Became a Member Of Blaq Diamond
The chemistry these bandmates have is uncanny but not surprising because both Ndu and Danya grew up together. They are both natives of KwaZulu-Natal and attended high school together. When asked about the genesis of their friendship, they revealed that they used to battle rap on the school bus every day from school. It went on for weeks, and Sphelele Dunywa realized that they had similar sounds and interests. He revealed that his friend also felt the same way, and they decided to team up and grow their musical talents together. In 2010, they decided to team up and create Blaq Diamond.
The inspiration behind the name came from a high school field trip; they went to a diamond mine and were told about the value of black diamonds and their connection to African culture. They decided to imbibe the quality of the diamond by naming their group after it. It is also believed that the name is an imitation of the fellow KwaZulu-Natal group, ‘Ladysmith Black Mambazo,’ whom they have mentioned as one of their top musical inspirations. Other artists who they have been inspired by are Shwi noNtekwala and Zola.
He Has Become A Successful Singer In South Africa With Blaq Diamond
Blaq Diamond is one of the best duos in the country, and they have the stats and awards to back it up. However, their rise to the top wasn’t automatic. After an unsuccessful music stint in Ladysmith, both boys decided to leave the town and move to Johannesburg, where they pitched their talents to the numerous music executives there. Because of their unique sound, it was a daring venture, and they were turned down severally. Eventually, both members had to work part-time to be able to finance their passion.
Their big break came in May 2017, when they were signed to ‘Ambitiouz Entertainment,’ home to big shots in the industry like Sjava. In 2017, Blaq Diamond released their first album titled ‘Inqola.’ The album was an instant hit and went number one on the local album charts in the country and spawned hits like ‘Woza my Love.’
They followed it up with a second album in 2020, which is still rocking the airwaves to date. The album is called ‘Umuthi,’ meaning Medicine. The album instantly went No 1 on iTunes, boasting hits like ‘Love Letter,’ which went three times platinum, ‘Summer to Muthi’ and four times platinum hit, ‘Ibhanoyi.’ The album itself was certified six-times platinum.
The duo has also taken home awards for their music, including the prestigious ‘Song of the Year’ award at the 2020 SAMAs. They also won another SAMA earlier this year for ‘Artist of the Year.’ They have been nominated a whopping 8 times for this year’s AFRIMA Awards, coming up in November 2021. They have also been nominated for an MTV Africa Music Award in the ‘Best Group’ category.
Besides Music, Sphelele Dunywa Loves To Cook
While Sphelele Dunywa has accepted that he is a music junkie who is never tired of making music, he also has several interests that make him the balanced artist we all love. He loves to play the piano and the marimba. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends and traveling. In a more surprising revelation, the singer also admitted that he loved to cook and was very good in the kitchen. Did any of you ladies just swoon?
The Afro-pop artiste has nonetheless maintained that music would always be his first love, and with the frequency at which the hits keep coming these days, that might not be changing anytime soon.
Sphelele Dunywa Might Possibly Be Single
This second half of the Blaq Diamond duo has a penchant for keeping his private life away from the public. Last year it was rumored that he was dating South African dancer Kamo Mphela because of a verse in a song that seemingly alluded to her dance moves and being a ‘dark-skinned virgin.’ When he was asked about it, Danya Dev only laughed it off. He never really confirmed the rumor, and eventually, it died down.
In 2020, popular influencer and blogger, Thickleeyonce tweeted that she had a huge crush on Blaq Diamond. She later clarified that her tweet was directed at his other half, Ndu. But the mistake had already caused a minor uproar on Twitter, leading to Blaq Diamond being spammed with love letters from female fans across the country.
Currently, there is no confirmation that Sphelele Dunywa is in any relationship. He seems to be basking in the euphoria of his recent achievements – and we don’t blame him at all.