Voted one of the top ten people brands in South Africa in 2011, PJ Powers is an icon of the people of South Africa. Famous since the eighties when she fronted the band “Hotline”, the largest selling band in South Africa at that time, this success continued into her solo career. What has enabled her to sustain success in this pressurized industry? Her music has a style and a universal appeal and authenticity. She is a leader not a follower in all that she does.
Her courageous stance against the apartheid Government led to her being banned in the late 80’s, entrenching her status even more throughout Africa. In the newly free and democratic South Africa, it was Nelson Mandela himself who asked PJ to perform at the historically important event of the 1995 Rugby World Cup where she sang the “World in Union” with Grammy award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo. In 2009, PJ’s rendition of this song, was featured in the Academy Award nominated film, “Invictus”.
PJ has recently released her new album, “Destiny”, an album she feels is reflective of her life. Authentic, strong, with beautifully written songs, she tells her story in an honest and compelling way, once again, flouting the rules. When asked recently in an interview who was her target market, her reply was “anyone who has a story to tell, and who can relate to mine” But, perhaps the greatest highlight of her life was receiving a letter thanking her for her contribution to the country from Nelson Mandela when he was in prison, still one of her most treasured possessions.
List of exceptional milestones:
- 1987 received a letter from Nelson Mandela in prison thanking her for what she was doing for the country.
- 2000 Nelson Mandela presented PJ Powers with a commemorative limited edition gold coin.
- Appointed a South African Tourism Ambassador.
- June 2003 the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation honoured her and singer Sibongile Khumalo with their prestigious annual award, promoting reconciliation by “singing people together”.
- September 2003 food chain Pick ‘n Pay nominated her as one of their “Stars of Charity” for having “made a difference in uplifting the youth of South Africa”.
- In 2004 she was voted as one of the Top 100 Great South Africans.
- Won the Sarie Awards’ for best female artist 7 times consecutively.
- Nominated for a Pick n Pay Children’s Choice award.
- In 1995, her recording of the Rugby World Cup official song featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, “World in Union”, reached no. 47 on the UK Singles Chart, She performed the song live at the opening of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Cape Town for a worldwide television audience.
- PJ has shared the stage with Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Hugh Masekela, Divine Divas, Lord Richard Attenborough, Richard E. Grant, Sibongile Khumalo, Janet Suzman and other prestigious names.
- PJ has sung for Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
- She sang at the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela.
- She collaborated with Vicky Sampson, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and M’du Masilela for the music video flighted at the United Nations Assembly in Washington, D.C. and in Greece.
- PJ also wrote an 85th birthday song for Mandela, which she sang for him and guests including Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey at his party in 2003.
- PJ Powers has been extensively involved with the Reach For a Dream Foundation, as well as the Hamlet Foundation.
- She was commissioned by the Presidency to write and perform a song for the Children’s Rights Commission – “Right to Learn”.
- 10 gold discs.
- 7 platinum discs.
- Top 10 People brands in SA.
- Most outstanding South African Award.
- 2013 Living Legend Award.
- Her Memoir, “Here I Am” published by Penguin books, released in August 2014.
- Nominated for Best Female Performance in a Musical – Naledi Awards 2015.
You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.
I am re-recording some of my old favourites with a contemporary spin, creating amazing collaborations with top SA and African artists. I am touring internationally in the US and Australia and New Zealand. I have started an entire new career as a speaker telling the story behind my best selling book…. I am writing new songs, inspired every day by my life and my country. I have developed another theatre show called “Driving a Pantechnicon Through the Revolution” – a musical story of the vibrant 80’s in South Africa, written with Marianne Thamm.
What was your inspiration behind your book, Here I am.
No one had really written about the amazing musical times of SA in the 80’s or of the history of that turbulent time. My history feels so intertwined with our country’s history. In addition I have been through my own turbulence and I hoped, perhaps to inspire people with my story.
Where can we purchase your book?
You can purchase the book here.
What is it that you are passionate about?
Music, touching peoples’ hearts, changing lives through the messages that music can convey.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My beloved grandmother – she taught me to be grateful, to understand that there were people less fortunate than me – she taught me compassion and awareness.
What is your personal “motto”?
To do the next right thing.
Who or what is your inspiration and why?
Barbra Streisand inspired me from when I was a little girl – I still have my scrapbooks and posters – I just wanted to be like her… and closer to home Miriam Makeba – the Click song was my first vinyl record.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To slow down, to enjoy life more, to acknowledge myself for my accomplishments instead of rushing through life throwing the accolades over my shoulder. Go slower.
What are your top 3 business tips?
- Be focused
- Be action-full
- Believe in yourself…and have fun.
What advice would you give to women wanting to follow their dreams?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, and have a daily positive mantra that tells you that you CAN.
Your favourite daily affirmation:
I ask only for the knowledge of Gods will and the courage to carry it out.
Your favourite quote:
Be the change you want to see in the world ~Ghandi
Which book are you reading now?
Loving Amy – the story of Amy Winehouse.
Which book can you read over and over again?
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
One piece of general advice you would like to share?
Be yourself. It doesn’t work any other way.
Is there anything that Xtraordinary Women can do to assist you on your journey?
Give me your undying support!