Dana sings the 90% local music tune
Simphiwe Dana has released her 10th recording, called Simphiwe Dana Celebrating 10 Years Live at the Bassline. It is dedicated to her 12 years in the industry thus far. Dana, who is no stranger to controversy and has taken on the SABC in the past for failing to promote local talent, has described the ‘live recording night’ of her album as the best night of her music career
Simphiwe Dana, one of the few South African artists who have been vocal about insufficient airplay on radio stations for local musicians, is excited about the SABC’s decision to play 90% local content. And she should know. She struggled to reach the top without support from local radio stations. When the news broke, Dana was boarding a flight to Addis Ababa and shed tears of joy. She was travelling to Ethiopia as the convener of the African Union’s arts and culture festivities. This week, we met up with the beautiful Dana in Maboneng, downtown Jozi. She is oozing confidence as she walks into her favourite restaurant, Pata Pata. Dressed in a peppermint, flowing dress and stilettos, it’s been three years since she swapped her dreadlocks for a huge Afro. She is in love with her new look. Dana has released her 10th recording, which is called Simphiwe Dana Celebrating 10 Years Live at the Bassline. It is dedicated to her 12 years in the industry thus far. “It was the best night of my music career. The audience sang along to each and every song. I could hardly hear myself sing. They were screaming, crying. For a moment, I thought it was my last show – I was going to die,” she laughs. “I know my music touches people, but it has never reached this scale. My performance was on another level.”
It has been a difficult journey for Dana. There were times she felt ostracised because her music was not being played locally, something she put down to not having “an American accent”.
As doors closed on the songstress, she felt demotivated and couldn’t write new music. She was also all too aware that many local artists were dying poor, she recalls.
Dana was one of the artists who supported Don Laka’s campaign for increased local content on radio stations, and they were even planning to take the battle to court.
“Now, musicians will be able to get royalties, and that money will help us establish our own record labels,” she says.
“I’m not putting anyone down – it’s good for us to have summer songs – but I create music that will still be relevant in 20 years. I’m not doing fast food music,” she says.
“When you think about South African music, you should think of me – my voice is consistent and people can relate to my music,” she says.