THE Durban based all-female jazz band, Heels over Head, has just returned home after staging a stunning performance at the Essence Festival in New Orleans on Friday, June 30.
John Legend and Diana Ross, Solange and Mary J. Blige, among the musicians who performed alongside the band at the prestigious festival.
“The girls”, as they are affectionately known, presented a set of their African influenced easy breezy pop jazz, as their signature sound is referred to. They got the audience on their feet and dancing to their rhythmic bass lines and cheerful melodies.
Lead vocalist Thulile Zama said: “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 Essence, was enriching and humbling.”
Drummer Rebekah Doty added: “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 and also our creativity has gotten a boost. Hopefully this will lead to the recording of our long awaited third album.”
A love of jazz music brought Zama, Doty, pianist Lindi Ngonelo, bassist Tebogo Sedumedi, and guitarist Chillie Stent together towards to end of 2008. Since then they have performed around KwaZulu-Natal and the country.
The Essence Festival, known as “the party with a purpose”, is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States.
Heels over Head was not the only band from Durban performing at Essence Festival. Also at the eent were IThwasa Lekhansela, Afrika Mama’s and AfroSoul.