‘Idols’ season twelve-finished last week in Johannesburg with Noma Khumalo being crowned as the winner, but so much work goes on behind the scenes and out of view of the camera that I thought it important to delve behind the stars.
I caught up with an exhausted RJ Benjamin, vocal coach and music MD for ‘Idols’ Season 12 and one of the vocal coaches on the inaugural ‘Voice South Africa’.
How are you?
I’m busy and busy is good!
What does music mean to you?
If I was to place in order the most important things in my life, music would probably come third, first being the air we breathe and second being loved.
Musically: Prince, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Mcferrin, Ella Fitzgerald, Earth Wind & Fire and Al Jarreau. Locally, Hugh Masekela’s journey is hugely inspiring.
Life in Cape Town?
…seems better than life in Joburg.
It’s our round. What are you drinking?
Vodka and lime.
The song you wished you wrote?
‘Alone’ by Liquideep.
Dream gig to do?
Montreux Jazz Festival.
What makes you stand out?
Probably the fact that no one in South Africa has the skill sets that I have. I’m an artist who produces and writes for other artists, but I’m a qualified vocal coach so my understanding of the voice gives me an edge over other vocal producers. All these skills have also enabled me become a successful musical director on various music reality shows.
If you were not a musician what would you do?
I would not exist.
Pick five words to describe your band?
Spending time playing for Donald.
Five desert island discs…
Stevie Wonder – ‘Songs In The Key Of Life’
Prince – ‘The Hits/The B-Sides’
Michael Jackson – ‘Off The Wall’
Beatenberg – ‘Hanging Gardens Of Beatenberg’
D’Angelo – ‘Voodoo’
Greatest movie ever made?
I’m a geek and kid at heart so based on that, ‘The Matrix’.
Who do you love?
My family and my friends. It’s a very small circle and I like to keep it that way.
What does the usual mean?
A 9 to 5 job.
Favorite fashion garment…
Shoes. I’m obsessed with shoes.
Give us some slang
Well I’m a part-time Jew so how about some old Yiddish slang? My wife would be known as a goy to my Jews; a goy is a non-Jew.
Do you have famous phone numbers on your phone?
I try to avoid knowing people who consider themselves famous.
What do you complain about most often?
People. Other then complain about people, I complain about people who either think or want to be famous.
What is your fear?
Leaving this world before I feel I’ve truly made a difference.
A giant packet of tomato flavored Big Korn Bites, a Milo bar and a can of Coke while watching some obscure adult themed cartoon.
On stage I tend to…
Talk too much!
What are you doing next?
Completing my fifth studio album entitled ‘the 5th Story’, due for release in the first half of 2017. The first single is out already, entitled ‘Dali Wami’ with Wanda Baloyi.
Gig of the week
Cape Farmhouse keeps it rocking
Sunday, December 3, from 2pm to 8pm
A unique outdoor concert venue that is perfectly suited to live music events. It has been hosting fantastic South African bands for the past seven years.
Performing live in concert will be Hot Water, Ben Dey and the Concrete Lions.
Address: Cape Farmhouse, Junction Redhill Rd & Plateuau Rd (M66 & M65) Redhill, Cape Town
Cost: At the gate – R100
Tel: 021 780 1246