Heels

My Life in Africa

A Busy Weekend with David Aldo, Colin Cowie and Engen


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What a pleasure it was to have my family down recently from Los Angeles. My uncle is a singer (see my write-up on him by clicking HERE) and the last time I saw him and the rest of my family living there was a staggering 8 years ago. I can’t believe how time flies. It was an absolute thrill to have them all down for a reunion as well as for performances he gave in both Johannesburg and in Port Elizabeth. In Joburg he performed at Tanz Cafe and in P.E. he performed at The Vodacom Ampitheatre at The Boardwalk. There was a good crowd who came out to support him at The Boardwalk on both nights, despite the rainy weather.

It was so special to see David & Sherri (my cousin) get up on stage after the interval for a duet.

After the shows everyone stayed behind to buy CDs and get autographs.

Below is a photo I took with my uncle and his producer in South Africa, Benjy Mudie. Benjy initially became famous for being the Marketing Director of Tusk Music and subsequently for being the producer of a very popular South African singing group Mango Groove. He is most recently well-known from being a guest judge on Idols, South Africa, and for being the Founder and Managing Director of Fresh Music since 1998. Below is a photo of Sherri also signing her autograph on the CD.

It was a really great weekend… David performed two nights in a row. While in Johannesburg he was also interviewed on various radio stations and also on television. He was interviewed one morning on Morning Live on SABC3:

He and my cousin had a lovely write-up in The Herald’s Weekend Post while they were here, which was great to see! Sherri cracked the front page, so naturally we took this snap while waiting at the traffic light:)

Something else I was invited to attend over the past week was “The King & Queen of Port Elizabeth” competition. It was held at the The Grand Hotel here in P.E. and was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon. I attended it with my good friend Brandon Lorenzo, of MTV Base fame. It was very cute seeing the babies modelling… I managed to steal a snap with  two of them after the show.

I attended another super event after that…. it was a talk given by Colin Cowie – events planner & lifestyle guru to the stars! He spoke here in Port Elizabeth at The Granary and a huge crowd came out to listen to him.

This guy has planned some of the most talked-about parties in the world… his clients include Kim Kardashian & Kris Humphries, Oprah Winfrey, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Jennifer Lopez, Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Hugh Hefner and many more…. So it was only fitting that I wore my highest pair of heels in honour of the occasion! Click HERE to view his website – it’s very interesting!

 

He was telling me how he’s missed biltong, smoked snoek, oxtail, tomato sauce and all the other South African products that aren’t available in the U.S. Finding out that he is from Selborne College in East London, here in SA, was so amazing. He said that he left South Africa at the age of 23 with nothing but a well-cut suit, a good tan and $400! His first client was Bruce Willis, when he was still young and had just got his first job on the series Moonlighting. Bruce asked him to do a barbeque on the beach and the rest is history. It was very inspiring to hear! It shows you that anything is possible. Here is a snap of him and I:

On another note, this past Saturday saw me giving a talk to a class of grade 10 students at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University who are part of Engen’s Saturday School Programme.

I spoke to them about valuing yourself and using your God-given talents to achieve great  things in life.They loved it when I did my range of accents for them! British especially 😉 Afterwards we handed out dictionaries to the learners, which were sponsored by Rotary Algoa Bay. My mother is the President of Rotary Algoa Bay this year, so she was there to present the students with this generous donation! It was a beautiful experience! Giving back is very important.

Creative Inspiration

Steps To Becoming a Professional Singer


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The White Collar Club Acapella Music Group

I’m a creative at heart (you tend to be in this industry) and this evening I’m off to a cocktail lounge with friends to listen to a live vocalist. I’ve sung with a group called The White Collar Club… we sang at a wedding in the beautiful wine region of Stellenbosch recently and also performed at the Freeworld Design Centre here in Cape Town. I’ve always loved singing for the fun of it and even completed a short jazz vocal course at this awesome music school. It got me thinking about how you would take singing seriously if you were ever considering it as a full-time career. Here are some simple guidelines for you if you want to become a professional singer, taken from this lovely source.

1. Learn how to sing. This is the foundation of your career as a singer. While there are some performers making a career out of singing when they don’t really sing all that well, it’s those people who hone their craft as singers and continually improve their form and ability who command the most respect as singers.

2. Singing requires good breath control.The voice is best described as a wind instrument and breathing is 80% of singing. Proper singing begins and ends with proper breathing. This is the breathing that we all did as babies, the breathing that we all do unconsciously all day. When you breathe from the diaphragm, your shoulders don’t move and your chest barely moves at all. Learn good breathing technique by keeping your shoulders still and focusing on moving your stomach in and out.

3. It’s crucial to relax when you sing. Strain and tension causes poor resonance and tone. Straining your voice is also not the proper way to hit a high note. You should always stay relaxed, control your breathing, and your vocal cords should never become tight or tense.

4. Make sure that you warm up before each session by humming before you actually start singing and rest your voice occasionally so you do not overwork your vocal cords.

5. Study singers whom you admire. How do they sing? What kind of crowd do they cater to? How did they become professional singers? What is their special “signature style”? Don’t be afraid to copy other artists. However, don’t try to become a “copy” of your favorite singer. Listening to and emulating singers is part of your research; you can learn from those that have been successful before you. Then you can combine all that information along with your own sound into a new creation – you.

6. Develop your own style. Experiment with different ways of singing and different types of music and find one that fits your personality and makes the most of your voice at the same time. You want people to be able to recognize your voice when they hear it. Whether or not you know how to sing already, make sure you eventually learn to develop your own personal style.

7. Try to measure your progress every few weeks by recording yourself singing and listening to the playback. Pick two or three songs to use as your benchmark: an easy song, and intermediate song and a difficult song. You can judge the difficulty of your song choices by the difficulty you have with singing them, if you don’t feel you can sing at all and want some suggestions, here are three that everybody knows: Happy Birthday (easy), Frosty The Snowman (intermediate), The Star Spangled Banner (difficult). If you are just learning to sing, do not begin practicing with your difficult song first but work towards mastering it.

8. Get a Singing Job. After developing some level of skill, you will want to test your talents by performing live. Get over your stage fright (if you have it) and start gaining some practical experience by singing wherever and whenever you get a chance to do so in front of a group of people (karaoke bars, clubs, parties, school talent shows or “busking” at local markets). Learn to connect with your audience.

9. Always take good care of your vocal cords. Drink plenty of water,it rehydrates your whole body,and try to eat foods that have a high water content, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. You may want to avoid dairy products as they induce phlegm, especially cheese and chocolate! Sorry! Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and even shouting at all costs. The toll on your vocal cords can be enormous.

10. Investing in lessons or a decent singing program, to learn good vocal techniques at home, can really help save your voice. Singing incorrectly can damage your voice.

The White Collar Club Acapella Music Group


Creative Inspiration

Pointers for the Entrepreneur


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Pointers for the Entrepreneur

I attended a fantastic evening recently with Xtraordinary Women held at The Bromwell in Woodstock. On arrival everyone received a welcome cocktail and soup with crostini. The aim of the night was to share, collaborate, inspire and network. The Bromwell is a 1927 hotel restored to its former glory… they have renovated it to an art gallery wherein 16 rooms showcase and sell luxury items including art and sculpture, bags and accessories, jewellery and fashion. There’s also a charming European style café inside. As an entrepreneur, it’s very encouraging listening to the stories of others who are too. It’s invaluable hearing their advice on how they started their businesses, built their brands, managed their time, sourced their own clients and reaped the maximum rewards. Here are some of the awesome tips I soaked up from speakers.

  • Everyone starts somewhere
  • Don’t get discouraged if it isn’t happening in the time frame you think it should
  • Keep work within normal business hours (hard when you are self-employed)
  • Strange is good!
  • Figure out your personal ‘flow’
  • You can’t innovate if you’re exhausted
  • Everyone needs constant inspiration. Discover what this is for you!
  • Collaboration is key
  • Know the difference between production + creative work
  • Look to those you admire and use their influences
  • Make your workspace your own
  • Be intentional on social media
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Get business cards printed regularly
  • Don’t be shy to market and promote your business and services
  • Network and wear heels doing it!
  • Remember to refresh your online platforms regularly
  • Interaction with readers goes a long way

Speakers included 

Nicky Abdinor

Nicky was born without arms and with shortened legs. Her talk was especially inspiring as she spoke about her journey through life – despite her disability she went to a normal school, studied at university and has infact obtained her Master’s degree in clinical psychology! Her talk was about how to show people to see past the disabilities and see the ABilities of women like her!

Adelaide Potgieter

She is a woman who, at just 21 with no money and a car that could not reverse, had a dream to start an Ad Agency with full services including events, radio and TV. Her family thought she was mad, but her eccentric personality saw her winning over some of South Africa’s richest businessmen who bought her pitch and helped her land a huge account. Today her company is one of the biggest in the country and specialize in Marketing Strategies and PR Campaigns

Karina Anderson

After landing in South Africa from Denmark at a very young age, a failed relationship and a car accident killing the father of her children led her to a deep depression and almost no hope. One day she turned that all around when she became inspired to start a foundation for people like her to attend workshops and go on a journey to discover who they really are and how they can change their lives. She published a book called ‘The Responsible Individual’ wherein she addresses some key questions everyone shoul investigate about themselves and their lives. She goes around with a team of 35 to prisons in South Africa to hold these motivational talks and workshops for innmates

Donna McCallum

The self-professed ‘Fairy Godmother’ has given motivational talks to some of the country’s biggest firms (including Estee Lauder, Nedbank and Sun International) encouraging one to set clear goals and not be afraid to go after them. She helps you through her talks, workshops and 12-week online programmes. She shows you how to take the right steps to define what it is you truly want, set those goals and figure out what you need to do to get them. Often people don’t really know what they want and when they don’t get it they complain – her aim is to encourage you to ASK the universe and learn to live a life ON PURPOSE. She has given talks in Europe and the U.S. and has recently published a book in South Africa called ‘The Fairy Godmother’s Guide to Getting What You Want’!

Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

Creative Inspiration

Women Empowerment


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This week I’m going to a superb event called “Success in Heels”. It’s all about women empowerment and how to be a dynamic, successful woman in today’s world. The line-up includes female guest speakers who will talk about living your life on PURPOSE and dreaming BIG! I look forward to hearing from these women, each of whom are powerhouses in this country. From business moguls to publishers to entrepreneurs to qualified psychologists….The evening will not disappoint! I’m all about women doing it for themselves, and this event falls on the first of spring here in South Africa. What better way to welcome in renewal, growth, warmth and colour to our lives? Owning your own business is fun. I get to work in my pajamas if I want, I can take a vacation whenever I can afford it and I can take on the clients that fit well with my personality. Those are often things that don’t happen at an office job. But with an office job comes more stability. A lot of that disappears the minute you decide to be your own boss. It’s your job to bring in the money, clients and meetings. Here’s different ways on how to get the work you need if you are an entrepreneur:

  • Organic/Search: People find you searching for what they need whether that’s on Google or another site like Dribbble or another portfolio site. It’s a great way to get a client since you’re not really doing much work but it can also lead to projects that don’t really connect with you since you were passive in the formation of that relationship.
  • Referral: Someone that you know professionally or personally has referred someone to you. I’ve just recently begun discounting services when a potential client might have a great list of contacts. If you’re my client and provide me with 5 individuals or small businesses that might want to work with me, it’s very worth it to provide a discount.
  • Social Media/Blogging: A potential client might get to know you on Twitter or on your website/ blog before they decide to work with you.
  • Relationships: We know the client (and in-person) first. This includes past colleagues, people we went to school with or friends/family. While these projects come about from a very reliable source, they also tend to be less lucrative. You end up giving people you know discounts or you get a little lazy when it comes to signing contracts. As time as gone on, you should end up doing less and less projects for friends and family.
  • Pursuing the Client: This is a situation where you reach out, connect and then offer ways in which you believe you can work together.

Madrid Spain