Heels over Head at Prep Room

Thulile Zama (second right) with other members of Durban jazz-pop band Heels Over Head – drummer Rebekah Doty, pianist Mandy Cobbin, guitarist Chillie Wardell-Stent. Picture by Val Adamson.


DURBAN’S all-woman, pop-jazz band Heels Over Head is lined up to perform at Durban’s Prep Room Restaurant at Glenwood Prep School, 1 Bath Road, on February 17. Admission is R60 and booking is via info@isupportdoyou.com

With their sparkling stage presence the women in the band always look classy and stylish. The lineup includes drummer Rebekah Doty, pianist Mandy Cobbin, guitarist Chillie Wardell-Stent and charismatic lead vocalist Thulile Zama.

I sat down and chatted with the amiable Thulile:

What can fans expect of your gig at Prep Room…. and what thoughts on the suitability of that venue for gigs?

Our fans can look forward to a smoking-hot two sets by Heels Over Head, with just the right balance of groove and soul.

“There are not many music venues in Durban, so we are forever finding different spaces to put on shows. We are looking forward to the Prep Room as it is very family-friendly… so people do not have to organise babysitters.”

What songs are on the playlist – covers and originals? 

“We will do our favourites from our two recordings, Could It Be and Sondela, as well as few fresh, yet-to be recorded tunes by u. Also on the programme are  few covers of songs by the queen of neo-soul Jill Scott, and the late, great South African icon, Brenda Fassie.

Any surprise guests perhaps for Prep Room?

Now if I let that out, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore, would it? People must just come and have fun with us!

Where and when did the band last perform?

Towards the end of last year, we played a lot of corporate functions and private sessions. We were also part of Durban’s Essence Festival (Articulate Africa). The last public gig by us was last July, at The Plant in Durban’s Station Drive.

What next for the group?

We want to continue to make more music and do more collaborations.

Any more recording or travelling planned?.

Yes, for sure. We love making music, and taking our music to the people. We hope to return to Cape Town and Joburg this year.

Highlights for the rest of this year for the band?

We are committed to go back to the studio!

How long have you been with the group?

Drummer Rebekah Doty and I founded the group with other friends more than eight years ago.

Where did the band first form – and why Heels Over Head as a name?

It was formed in 2008 in the Prac rooms of UKZN. ‘Heels’ represents ladies and, in jazz terms, we call the fore of a song the ‘Head’… so really it is “ladies doing jazz”. However, our sound is more contemporary, influenced by other genres as well – not just jazz.

What have been the biggest highlights over the years for the band?

Winning the Yamaha Young Talent award in 2010; being nominated for the 17th MTN South African Music Awards in 2011; and travelling to Swaziland with the band. Another highlight is being able to maintain a band for as long as we have. A lot of bands come and go.

How many membership changes have there been over the years – and who are original members?

Original members were Taryn Kasaval (pianist), Sindi Nene (bass), Rebekah Doty (drums) and Thulile Zama (vocals). There have been lots of changes over the years, but we have always focused the band on the music, not just on the members. Our past members include Zoe The Seed, Lindi Ngonelo and Sindi Nene, who have successful careers in the industry. Also, we have featured talented guitarists Chillie Stent and Arianna Carini.

Any membership changes recently?

Yes, my partner in crime, Nomkhosi Mazibuko, did her last gig in July after almost eight years with the band. It was a bittersweet moment, but it is time for her to spread her wings … and we wish her all the best in her future endeavours

Any funny anecdotes from performing, touring or rehearsing?

Well, people’s mascara and eyeliner have been known to be found in other members’ make-up bags. The joys of sisterhood! Also, we once had a guy go up on stage, fold his arms and stare in awe while Rebekah was taking a drum solo.

Is your fulltime job still at UKZN? How long there and what is your position there?

Yes. I am the concert co-ordinator and centre co-ordinator at the varsity’s Jazz Centre . I have been at UKZN since July 2011. I am blessed to do what I love every day.

Any other news?

We want to continue to empower and provide a stepping stone for other female instrumentalist. There is so much talent around us.


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