Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, pianist Witness Matlou started playing music in church. His fascination in music was inspired by the role that music played at his church, home, and life in the townships. Seeing people dance and sing, and all the happiness in church, is what got him into music.
His enthusiasm, triggered by the sounds of jazz piano, led him to spend much time in church after services, and after school, practicing. He soon took music lessons at a community center, where he made great progress.
He studied music at the University of Kwazulu-Natal in Durban, where the jazz program was founded by Darius Brubeck, son of the legendary Dave Brubeck. At UKZN, Matlou won a scholarship to study music in the U.S., and spent two semesters at Drake University in Iowa. At Drake, he formed his own band, the Witness Matlou trio, performing at the Des Moines Arts Festival.
While studying at Drake, Matlou got the opportunity to audition for Berklee and was accepted with a full-ride African Scholar award. In the summer of 2010, Matlou got the opportunity to tour and play professionally in Europe with the Drake University Jazz Band. That included performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam.