Bakithi Kumalo

Learn more about our faculty member Bakithi Kumalo.

Bakithi Kumalo

Bakithi Kumalo

Band Director/Bass

Bakithi Kumalo was born in Soweto Township, a small town about 45 miles outside of Johannesburg South Africa. He grew up with an extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in a small 4 room house that was bursting at the seams with music.  From an early age, he was drawn to the music, singing, and chanting that filled his home and community. At the age of 7, he filled in for the bassist in his uncle’s band, and at the age of 14, he joined a band and moved to Zululand. After a stint with another band in Zimbabwe, he returned home and established a reputation as a solid session musician. In this role, he made his mark when he joined Paul Simon’s group for the 1985 recording of Graceland; an album that also featured the South African group, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which has received more Grammy Awards & Nominations than any World Music Group in history.

Bakithi has recorded or toured with Paul Simon, Gloria Estefan, Derrick Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Chico Caesar, Laurie Anderson, Gerald Albright, Miriam Makeba, Randy Brecker, Grover Washington, Jr., Bob James, Angelique Kidjo, Jon Secada, Josh Groban, and Chris Cotti. In addition, he’s enjoyed a highly successful solo career and has 6 successful albums to his credit.  His expressive and lyrical fretless style has made him a musician popular with other musicians, recording with Joan Baez, Cyndi Lauper, Chaka Khan, Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Mickey Hart, and many more.

What Drew Me to Teach at East End Arts:

I love community! I play to support my community and when I saw the great community that East End Arts was building, I knew I had to become a part. Here I can teach students to play freely without being nervous and impart the importance of music as a business and a discipline.

My Expertise:

Bass Guitar

My Inspiration:

Traditional African Music and American Pop

Why I Love Teaching:

Music is within all of us.  You just must learn a way to express it and let it out. I love to see students become more confident and lose their nervousness with performing. I like teaching them techniques and then seeing them hone those skills. When they play freely, that really makes me happy and I experience true joy in their music.