PJ Powers shows a different side to the icon

PJ Powers shows a different side to the icon

The spotlight will again shine on SA singing icon PJ Powers when she hosts her show ‘Firefly’ at the GrandWest Roxy Revue Bar between February 7 and March 29.
With a singing career that began in the late 1970s, Powers’ career has seen many highlights. She has recorded 16 albums, was banned from radio and TV for a year by the apartheid government, and was encouraged by the late Nelson Mandela to continue her singing.
Many of her songs have become lasting hits, including ‘Feel So Strong’, ‘You’re So Good To Me’, ‘There Is An Answer’, ‘Home To Africa’ and ‘Jabulani’.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing for PJ Powers and in ‘Firefly’, she will take audiences through her personal journey; through the high and lows, and rises and falls of her remarkable career.
The show will include a mix of her well-loved hits as well as brand new songs from her new album ‘Destiny’, interspersed with humour.

PETER TROMP called up POWERS and had a quick chat with the iconic artist.

Why did you decide to call the show ‘Firefly’?
It’s about finding the light in the dark. When I was in an AA meeting once someone said in order to see a firefly, things have to be completely dark, and that’s what happened in my life. It went completely dark, and thank goodness I found my firefly, so that’s the relevance of the show, and why it has that title. It’s a one woman show that’s all about truth – showing people aspects of my life that they wouldn’t have known about.

We don’t often get to see a reveal into the life of a major artist like this. It strikes me as quite a brave thing to do. Does it feel brave from your perspective?
I do feel quite brave. It’s a very authentic piece of work. I also feel bloody nervous at the same time. I think often people want to hide the darker aspects of their lives from people, but I’ve never been able to hide. I think that anyone who suffers, or have suffered from any kind of addiction will be able to relate to my story. It’s also filled with lots of comedy, so I think anyone could enjoy the show. I’ve discovered that I have a comedian hiding inside of me, which I never knew before.

Looking back on your career, what would you say are a few of your proudest moments?
I talk about this in the show – for me one of the proudest moments in my life was when I received a letter from Nelson Mandela while still in Britain. Another one of my proudest moments was when I was given the name Thandeka in 1982 at the amphitheatre in Soweto at the height of ‘Jabulani’. Perhaps my proudest moment is that I’m in my sixth year
of sobriety.

Having been a part of the SA music business for so long, how would you say it has changed to where it is now?
I’ve seen it change in both good and bad ways, the upside of it being we now because of digital technology we have an international platform from which to release anything we do. From a musical point of view I think that South Africa is coming out of a very lazy musical stage. I think people slammed a beat together, put a ribbon around and didn’t much care about what lyrics they were writing. You know, overnight sensations. But I’m very glad to see the emergence of people like Zahara, who write with some degree of integrity from a lyrical point of view, and where their songs aren’t just composed on a computer. I think music is being put back into the music industry.

Your show will contain material from your most recent album, ‘Destiny’. Tell us a little about the songs from that album.
It’s a very organic album. It’s got real live musicians playing every instrument. It’s a different sound, but we’ve all grown. I would be a fool if I was still doing township kind of music. So basically it’s a much more mature sound, and rawer than what people are used to from me. It’s probably also the most honest piece of work I’ve ever done because it is revealing a much more vulnerable PJ. I think people have always just seen PJ being this Statue Of Liberty, tidal wave kind of person, but in ‘Firefly’ I show them a much rawer and intimate version of myself.

What are some of your future plans?
What I’m also doing in Cape Town is I’m working with Marianne Thamm on my book, which will be released in August. I’ll also be touring with ‘Firefly’ in South Africa and also the album for the better part of this year in places like Canada and Australia and other places in Africa like Kenya, Uganda and Malawi. I’m very lucky to have big audiences in these places where I can fill a stadium.

* Doors open for ‘Firefly’ at 8pm and the show starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are available from Computicket at R90 each.
Book at Computicket.