Over the moon over New Orleans

Heels Over Head, back in Durban after performing in New Orleans last month – alongside the likes of Diana Ross and John Legend.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DURBAN all-woman jazz band Heels Over Head wowed music-lovers in New Orleans recently when they performed as part of the American city’s Essence Festival.

The group entertained there on June 30 on invitation from EThekwini Municipality, Department of Arts & Living Cultures and the Essence Festival – and performed alongside the likes of John Legend, Diana Ross, Solange and Mary J Blige.

“The girls”, as they were affectionately known, presented a set of their African-influenced, breezy pop-jazz, as their signature sound is referred to.

“As always, the audience did not miss the charm and charisma of their lead vocalist Thulile Zama. She was joined by drummer Rebekah Pillay, pianist Lindi Ngonelo and bassist Tebogo Sedumedi, known to many as ‘lady funk’. Last, but not least, they featured smoking-hot guitarist Chillie Stent and the flaming fusion of musicians was complete,” says a spokesman.

“It was a huge honour to be selected for a performance at this festival. We have worked for many years to create opportunities like these. Not only was the performance itself a great experience, but being in such a lively musical city and being a guest at a prestigious event like the Essence Festival, was enriching and humbling,” says Zama.

Drummer Doty adds: “We want to be an example to other female musicians and show them that everything is possible.

“It has been a new challenge to perform for a different audience from what we are used to. This trip has been a great motivation to keep the band going. Also, our creativity has got a boost. We hope this will lead to the recording of our long-awaited third album.”

A shared love of jazz music brought the women together towards the end of 2008. Since then they have been occupied with composing, rehearsing and recording new music – and have performed all around the country.

The Essence Festival, known as “the party with a purpose”, is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-off event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily tt African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the US.

Heels over Head was not the only band from Durban performing at Essence Festival. Also there were  IThwasa Lekhansela, Afrika Mamas and AfroSoul .

 


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