Tu Nokwe ''was born into a family of musicians''. ''Her father, Alfred, was in a jazz swing band and her mother, Patty, was a soprano singer. When her father performed at weddings and other functions he would encourage his daughters to perform with him. All the children in the Nokwe household were taught how to sing by their mother and she introduced them to the music of Miriam Makeba and Letta Mbulu. When Tu failed matric in the late 1970s, she was encouraged to take up music as a career by Bheki Mseleku, who was living with the Nokwes in kwaMashu''.
Tu ''taught herself how to play the guitar by using two chairs, a string strung in between the chairs and a do-it-yourself book''. ''When she finally managed to get a guitar, she wrote her first song Relax and had in the meantime, through her parent’s efforts, managed to complete matric. Together with her sister, Marilyn, and a friend, Nonhlanhla, they formed the Black Angels and recorded an album''. ''Tu also formed the group Amajika Youth Project, which taught children music, dance and drama. This was a successful project and some of the children in her group ended up featuring in Mbongeni Ngema’s Sarafina'.