23 September 2020

Keith the songbird portrait

Music connects people. We can use it to travel back in time, or from one place to another. It can also open doors for the young and talented, just as it did for Keitu, the South African R&B/Soul musician and musical theatre performance artist.

From South Africa to China with the Lion King production

Music has been part of Keitu’s life ever since she can remember. “Just talking about music gives me goosebumps, I couldn't imagine my life without it,” she smiled.

Born to a Christian family, she was raised to have faith. And so, she chose to have faith in pursuing her dreams. Fortunate enough to receive a full scholarship, she enrolled in a Drama and Musical Theatre programme at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

As the final year was approaching, Keitu was actively auditioning for various productions. After many rounds, she was cast in The Lion King in Shanghai, China. “It felt like a dream - a promise of independence, having something on my own as a young woman, to be able to support myself and my family,” Keitu said.

“Shanghai scared me - it was a culture shock. People stared at me; some even took pictures of me. Eventually, I learnt to be more patient and understanding. I didn't know their culture, and they didn't know mine - so we had the opportunity to learn from one another. I left China as an independent woman. My job cultivated joy in what I was doing - it helped me to find my sense of worth.”

Now, Keitu performs in various productions in London’s West End, representing some of the most important commercial theatres in the English-speaking world.

keitu the songbird wearing a colourful bralette “A

The sound of the South African heritage

Keitu has recently released a single called ‘Take me Home’, a beautiful ballad about the importance of home. The song reflects back on some of the most difficult times of her childhood; when she and her family were forced to leave their home. “Since I've moved abroad, I now know that home is more than just a place, it's more than a house - it's a feeling. It's where we feel understood, and where our dreams are met,” she says. 

“This song is not just a sad story about my childhood. It’s for anyone who might feel out of place or lonely. Being foreign and far away from home is an amazing thing. But it's almost as if everyone is searching for that one important thing - home. Even when you find your ‘home’ abroad, you'll always feel torn. There are opportunities and challenges, but we have to fight through the lonely days when the sacrifice feels too much,” Keitu says.

Listen to Keito's single "Take Me Home".

Keitu says that heritage is not just about food or traditional attire; it’s about owning your story. “South Africans love to feel, and that's what I represent in my music. It's about being vocal; about being honest,” she explains. “We’ve been through a lot. Composing music that's related to the struggles we've experienced and how far we've come is important to me.”

keitu the songbird with children from a house “A

Helping those in need

A few years ago, Keitu joined the charitable organisation Boitumelo Children’s Home in Soshanguve (Pretoria), which supports children who have suffered extreme hardships and living conditions. Together with her family, she visits the home each month to prepare a feast and donate necessities.

“Every time we visit them, we perform - we play music, we sing, we dance. We want to let them know that God loves every single one of us and that there are good people that they can trust. These are the most humbling moments of my life - when I connect with someone through my performance and feel like I made their day better.”

When asked what was her favourite performance ever, she simply answered; “I’ve been blessed with amazing opportunities, but closest to my heart are the performances that have helped someone in need.”


Connect with Keitu:

Apple Music