UKZN staffer Ms Thulile Zama and her band, Heels over Head, recently performed at the State Theatre in Pretoria as part of the theatre’s Vavasati Festival. It was also a special performance for the five-member band as it also celebrated its 10-year anniversary.

The ladies of jazz paid tribute to the women that paved the way for them. These include legends such as Miriam Makeba, Brenda Fassie and Mimi. The tribute set also featured a hint of neo-soul as the band also performed music by Jill Scott.

‘When I think of a woman’s voice in my childhood home, I think of Miriam Makeba. She’s an important influence in my music career,’ said Zama, the vocalist of Heels over Head.

‘All band members chose musicians that influenced their career,’ explains Ms Rebekah Doty, drummer in the band. Then all the members worked on the songs together to come to a fully-fledged tribute to their personal icons. The concept was initiated as the band noticed that iconic women continually inspire them. They wanted to recognise the accomplishments of female singers, instrumentalists and songwriters.

‘Women have had so much to say over the years, and now that women’s rights are still being called into question, it’s even more important to honour our voices. It’s important to keep the names of these women in the forefront. In the music industry, women artists aren’t celebrated and talked about in the same way as male artists. So, as singers trying to make a career out of music, it’s inspiring to focus on the women who really paved the way for us,’ said Doty.

On the band stand was Lindelwe Ngonelo on keys, Tebogo Sedumedi on bass guitar, Linda Tshabalala on saxophone, Doty on drums and Zama on vocals.

The band aims to empower women in the music industry. Individual members of the band are also involved in the motivation of young female musicians through teaching and mentorships.

Heels over Head will return to The State Theatre to close off Women’s Month on 31 August. This time, they will feature Cape Town based pianist, Ms Nobuhle Mazinyane, and UKZN student, Ms Nosihle Yengwa on bass.

Words: Melissa Mungroo

Photographs supplied