Samantha and love songs

Samantha Landers, soon to star in Durban in Love Will Tear Us Apart.

BILLY SUTER chats to Durban  singer and vocal coach SAMANTHA LANDERS, who is soon to star with The Reals and the band’s fellow guest, guitarist Colin Peddie, in a new showband entertainment titled Love Will Tear Us Apart. It is scheduled to premiere at Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo from July 1 to 3 and July 8 to 10. To book, or for more information, call theatre manager Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.
NOTE: For a chance to win 4 tickets to the July 1 performance of the new show, see end of article.

Tell me about the new show with The Reals and how it came about.

This beautiful show was created and written by the talented Colin Peddie. He wanted to write a show about heartbreak and love lost and, let’s face it… some of the best songs ever written, are written around that subject so it is perfect for a musical review. 

It’s a universal theme that everybody can relate to, and the show really captures the mood and moments around lost love. The show is also really funny and while the theme, as a whole, can be perceived as sad, the show explores the fickle nature of people, the quirks and awkwardness around relationships, as well as the liberation that comes with the end of anything, propelling us into the new. 

Love Will Tear Us Apart features some classics from Abba, The Temptations, The Beatles and Marvin Gaye, interspersed with modern favourites from Lady Antebellum, Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson.

This really is a show that everybody can enjoy – whether you have had your heart broken, done some heart breaking yourself, comforted somebody that has lost love, or if you are someone that found yourself in a situation that just wasn’t working anymore.

It is also for anyone that simply loves live music and great tunes because The Reals are superb in all their playing, singing and performing. And Colin – the show is the perfect example of his beautiful mind and talents. 

What is your favourite moment in the new show?

This is a tough one because the music is just so beautiful and diverse, and such a pleasure to sing and be a part of! But I have to say… the interviews with shunned lovers and heart-breakers is pretty classic! I think it’s important to laugh at heartbreak – we can cry, we can get depressed, we can feel lonely and overwhelmed. But I think laughing is important too as it reminds us that pain doesn’t last forever. The show is a real time reflection of that. It will make the audience feel. Everything.

How many shows have you done with The Reals to date?

I have been lucky enough to do two other shows with The Reals. One was the tribute to Fleetwood Mac, a musical treat where I had the privilege of filling in for my talented and beautiful friend, Marion Loudon. The other was another of Colin’s genius creations: Poetry In Music… which is making a comeback soon!

You were last on stage in Durban in the Cabaret and Beyond festival showcase at Durban’s Seabrooke’s Theratre at DHS. Discuss that showcase for new composers of musical theatre works, as well as the festival’s importance and why it was special for you.

I absolutely LOVED performing in Cabaret and Beyond. I can’t begin to describe the experience of taking music that has been created by someone else, and imagining how they would want it to be interpreted and performed. It was one of the most intimidating and rewarding projects that I have had the privilege of being apart of.

I am a songwriter myself and I can’t even imagine releasing one of my own works into the world and trusting someone else to perform it without my input. To take such beautiful and personal writing and be allowed to breathe life into it was an honour. 

The cast was kind and supportive of one another – always encouraging, a real team – and I am so grateful that a group of musical theatre veterans were so gentle and kind to a pop-singing vocal coach!

Working with director Steven Stead was magic. He gave me the direction, care and patience I needed to find the confidence to fulfil such a demanding vocal space. Learning that much new music in such a short space of time, and the emotional commitment each piece required, was extremely challenging. But Steven was always there to support, guide and encourage. I am so grateful. 

Roland Perold ( backbone of the festival)  is the kindest person. And getting the opportunity to work under him was amazing. He truly has a heart for people. I have to mention accompanist Wessell Odendaal as well! What a pleasure to be able to work with someone of his calibre. He is also an all-round-wonderful human being. 

Cabaret and Beyond will always be a special show for me, also for the time it was stagede. October, 2021, was a continuation of the pain, exhaustion and hopelessness felt in the arts due to Covid-19 chaos. We were battered, bruised and running out of life.

That show was oxygen – a glimmer of hope for the future of art. And the incredible team that created it was a welcome reminder of why we do what we do, because there is always more beauty to be found.

What is next for you on the performing front?

I am lucky enough to be performing in Poetry In Musin with The Reals again. It will be returning to the Rhumbelow soon! I cannot wait for that! I also have a couple of corporate events to look forward to.  But in these times, I am focusing on the joy of creating (music, writing, expansion) and in my teaching. 

Tell me more about your singing success, your voice coaching and your student successes  and plans with them.

I am lucky enough to teach a full studio of talented vocalists! I work with 35 private singers every week and I also teach group classes. 

There is so much joy in watching a singer begin to connect with their voice and start realising its abilities. I love the science behind vocal technique and the effect of implementing a concept and watching the voice truly soar. 

Contemporary voice is still relatively new as far as training in South Africa goes, and it has been truly wonderful to grow in my own skill as a coach and see the amazing results in my students.

I have many students that have gone on into the professional space, be it by releasing singles or taking to the stage. My dream is that singers realise the value in continued training for vocal growth, vocal maintenance and vocal rehabilitation.

At a certain level, singers are a bit like vocal athletes and with consistent training they will gain full control and co-ordination of the voice muscles, improve flexibility and maintain vocal longevity. At the end of the day, though, singing is really about story-telling and in my studio, alongside technique, I try to encourage my singers to understand their emotions, so they can express them effectively. It really is a rewarding space to be part of.

As for my own singing, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve sung in international competitions with my old, high school choir (St Mary’s DSG), I’ve done corporate events overseas, I’ve taken part in season two of The Voice South Africa where I made it to the top 30.

I have also been a part of the singing group MitzyGeorge with my best friends and released two singles, plus featured on an amazing single by the brilliant Veranda Panda, as well as sung on all kinds of corporate stages.

I have correlated amazing shows, travelled, been suspended above the ground, performed with incredible vocalists and musicians. I have been stretched to my vocal limits, challenged, choreographed and put my acting skills to the test.

Singing has given me the gift of meeting the most wonderful people, and it has helped me to shape and articulate my own life. Singing is more than what I do. At a time when the world is so polarised, singing is the antidote to division.

Story-telling is the bridge that brings us back together. I am working on new music right now and focusing on building and growing my vocal studio

What, generally, is your favourite song right now?

There are too many great songs… But I did just hear Lady Gaga’s new song, Hold My Hand, from the new Top Gun film sequel, and that is pretty epic. I also love Sarah Bareilles’s Miss Simone. Also Lizzo’s About Damn Time gets you ready to dance!

The last album you bought/downloaded?

 I downloaded Adele’s 30. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Not too bad! Not sure I loved it, but not too bad.

Three of your favourite songs of all time?

Gosh, I love so many songs! But I will always love Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Nat King Cole’s version of The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) and Nina Simone’s Feeling Good. I am an old jazz soul at heart. But ask me again in a week – the answers will change.

Three of the finest albums ever?

I wouldn’t be able to speak of the best albums ever… but for me, the most influential include Mariah Carey’s Music Box. I had never heard somebody sing like that and it inspired me so much as far as vocal goals.

Whitney Houston and The Bodyguard soundtrack is also a big one for me as far as inspiration and goals go for a kid that wanted to sing.

Later in my life, I loved Christina Aguilera’s Stripped album. I adored her power vocals, her lyrics and the Spanish influence on the album.

Song you most associate with your teens?

Shorty Got Low by Flo Rider and Señorita by Justin Timberlake. Gosh… dancing to those in Durban nightclubs…

Song you most associate with your early childhood years?

Hero by Mariah Carey.

The size of your music collection and the artists represented most there?

I love music. I listen to everything from musical mheatre, pop and jazz to RnB, soul and EDM. As long as nobody is screaming, I am listening!

The local artists you most admire?

I love Veranda Panda. I love their interesting sound, their authenticity and their ability to get any crowd on its feet. I am also a huge fan of Lelo Ramasimong because her vocals are just unparalleled. 

Artists from abroad that you most admire?

I love Lizzo for her personality and honesty, Sarah Bareilles for her insane musicality, Lady Gaga for her versatility and, at the moment, Billy Eilish for her incredible songwriting skills. All very pop-focused, I realise, but I teach contemporary so it’s sort of in my wheelhouse.

Most over-rated people in the recording business?

This is a difficult question because music taste is so diverse and something that might seem awful to me, is somebody else’s favourite thing! 

So, honestly? I think the worst people in the business are those that don’t use their platform to help others . If you are lucky enough to be in the recording game, lift other artists up, guide them through the ins and outs of the industry, be generous with your knowledge, develop a mentality of abundance, and use your privilege for the improvement of music and the industry all round.

There is always enough for everybody, and if we spend time as artists lifting each other up and supporting other artists’ success, what a wonderful industry we would have!

Pet hate/s about the music scene in South Africa?

The South African music scene is challenging because we are not fully supported. It would be so wonderful to see music in all its glory, all over the country.

It would be incredible to have more theatre, more live shows, more festivals, more venues. We are very limited here and it’s frustrating that artists keep trying to create without the support from the top. I don’t think people realise the quality musicians that exist in this country – so many really are world class. 

Music seems like the one area where we are constantly having to convince our country of our value. You could have studied for 15 years, performed at the best venues, spent hundreds of thousands on lessons and training and equipment and recording and someone will still suggest that you sing in a pub for R1000, exposure and a plate of chips.

It is really frustrating that all artists are lumped into one music category regardless of age, experience, qualifications and even talent. 

Obviously, performing at any venue is wonderful if you get to play to an appreciative crowd and if you’re being paid for the work that you do. But when people offer artists that have been on the scene for years defining and refining their craft, a performance in exchange for exposure, it really is insulting. It’s a mindset that needs to change.

The one music act you would give the world to see perform live?

Lady Gaga.

Music acts you have seen live and loved?

I have only seen a few international acts live: Robbie Williams, Michael Buble, Maroon 5, Josh Groban, Katy Perry and Counting Crows. Buble and Groban were absolutely incredible. Love, love, loved them!

I have seen loads of local acts live. and my faves are probably Veranda Panda and Goldfish at Durban Botanic Gardens!

Best singing star ever?

Barbra Streisand. I just love her music choices. 

The greatest musician of all time?

Elton John. I adore him and his writing!

Best band in history?

The Beatles. All their songs are still so incredibly beautiful and relevant. And after doing the show and getting really stuck in the music, I’d have to say Fleetwood Mac.

The styles of music you most enjoy – and least enjoy?

I love pop, soul, anything theatrical, jazz, blues and contemporary. I am not a fan of alternative roc. Live? Yes. To listen to at home? Not for me. And I don’t like anything where people are screaming. 

The most embarrassing artist represented in your music collection – and why is it there?

Probably the Backstreet Boys! My friends and I were obsessed with them in the ’90s and I still have all my CDs. I thought they were amazing! Heehee.

The one song that will always be guaranteed to get you on to a dancefloor?

I love dancing. It doesn’t take much to get me onto the dance floor! But any ’90s hits and anything super cheesy.A favourite is Shania Twain’s Man I Feel Like A Woman. Tell me you don’t at least tap your foot when that starts!

Your choice of karaoke song?

Never put me in front of the karaoke mic or I won’t sit down for the rest of the evening. I avoid karaoke at all costs.

The first song you ever performed for an audience?

I was seven and the song was Consider Yourself from Oliver. It was my first choir solo. Accent and everything.

Guilty pleasure: a song you really feel you shouldn’t enjoy, but secretly do?

Anything by Lizzo! Some of her lyrical content (blushing!)… but I love!

Worst decade for music?

We lost the plot for a minute recently, like the mid-2000 s. And Disco. Not sure how I feel about that. 

Instruments you can play?

 Piano and guitar.

The song you’d like to be played at your funeral?

Lizzo’s Good As Hell.

The song you find the saddest (and why)?

I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt. It’s so honest, so lonely and breaks my heart. I think we have all been there, and there is nothing worse. 

Two dead icons you’d most like to invite to dinner?

Freddie Mercury – it would be a pretty awesome dinner! And Michael Jackson. In spite of all the scandal around him. I would be so curious to find out his truth and the way he walked through the world.

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WIN SHOW TICKETS… WIN SHOW TICKETS… WIN SHOW TICKETS

Care to put yourself in line to win FOUR TICKETS to the opening performance – at 7pm on Friday, July 1, at Durban’s Rhumbleow Theatre in Umbilo -of a new show by The Reals, Love Will Tear Us Apart, also featuring vocalist Samantha Landers and guitarist Colin Peddie?

You simply have to be a follower of the SoSuterBill site to win.  At no cost.

If you are not already a follower, simply leave your email address in the space provided towards the end of the cover page of this site, sosuterbill.com (access the cover page by clicking ‘Latest Posts’ on the menu bar).

You will then be a follower, and receive email notification whenever I file a new story.

Once you have subscribed (there is no cost), send your NAME and PHONE NUMBER via email (NOT THIS SITE’S CONTACT FORM) to sosuterbill@gmail.com and place the words ‘LOVE WILL TEAR US APART GIVEAWAY’ in the subject field. 

Note that the competition closes at 6pm on Thursday, June 16, and the winner will be contacted soon after. His/her name will be posted in this spot thereafter. (The lucky winner of four tickets is Carl Oosthuizen. Well done!)

Also note that tickets may not be exchanged for another performance and that the prize is for tickets only (not travel and/or accommodation should this prove necessary).

NOTE: PLEASE READ ENTRY DETAILS CAREFULLY AS SOME PEOPLE ARE ENTERING COMPETITIONS INCORRECTLY.

ALSO NOTE THAT ONLY ONE ENTRY PER SUBSCRIBER WILL BE CONSIDERED.

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