“…you don’t understand, I didn’t embrace black culture, black culture embraced me first…”

Since a young girl PJ Powers wanted to be famous. Her childhood games were making her sister interview her as if she were a famous person. She posed and postured for her sister’s microphone.

She did become famous, internationally famous. What she never expected was, in the heat of Apartheid, to become famous and accepted by Black South Africans before her own. She was given the name Thandeka – The Loved One, by the black community while the white community threatened and banned her – the national broadcaster scratching a nail through library LP records of her music, labelling them NOT TO BE USED.

Disheartening? Of course! But again, it was a Black man who encouraged her with his support. That Black man was himself banned and wrote to her from prison. That man was none other than Nelson Mandela who became her friend. Because of him, she sang at the opening the 1995 Rugby World Cup – perhaps the highest moment in her life even though she has shared the stage with the likes of Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Ladismith Black Mambaso…and sung to Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and King Juan Carlos of Spain.

She has used her fame honourably, working for charities and life-coaching.   And in between, she is planning; always writing, singing, composing, and planning the next ‘something big’. She is definitely not yet done!

Her songs have reverberated through our lives and our hearts. A true icon and a great South African.