Johannesburg – Gathering artists from around the African continent, local singer Simphiwe Dana blew audiences away with her Symphony Experience concert held at the Theatre in the Track, Kyalami, in November 2016.
The show boasted performances by Nigerian artist Asa, Equitorial Guinea act Concha Buika, a 60-piece orchestra, and a 30-piece choir. Simphiwe took some time to chat to The Juice about the show prior to its screening on BET.
What sparked the idea of this show?
Well, as a proud African living in South Africa, I felt the strong need to walk the talk, and therefore, try to find a way to unite the continent. Music came in quite handy, and therefore I started planning how I would get together different cultures from the continent with music.
This idea was 9 years in the making, why did you decide to finally implement it in 2016?
It was not really that I decided that 2016 would be it. There were many challenges, but everything came together in 2016.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
There was finding the right production company and dealing with a lot of other challenges. It’s not easy being a black woman in the industry, you will face a lot of challenges, especially if you have your own dreams and way of doing things, and certain kinds of demands when it comes to quality of the product. So that would mean that it would take me a while to actually convince people of the vision and then to also get the right team of people together to work on the idea.
What was the most rewarding part?
It was just that moment before I stepped onto the stage for the first time.
How is the Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience different from any other show you have done?
This, for me, is a first of its kind. I did a similar show in Italy many years ago, but to do a symphony with a 30-piece choir in South Africa, on the African continent, with Africans, it’s unprecedented. As far as my knowledge serves me, it’s the first of its kind and that’s what sets it apart.
What would you do differently if you could do it again?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. It was a learning curve for myself and my team. Now we know what to prioritise next time we do something like this. We learnt a lot in the process. But what is most important, we did a great job, regardless of the challenges that we were faced with.
The Simphiwe Dana Symphony Experience will be playing for the first time on BET (DSTV channel 129) on Saturday, 28 January, at 20:00.