The dawn of the 21st century has seen an increase in the number of women taking up prominent positions in many male-dominated fields.
Whether it’s politics, sports or music, stereotypes against women are being broken down. But are enough women breaking into one of the most male-dominated industries, that is, the Mzansi dance scene?
Before listing some of SA’s best artists, it’s a must to acknowledge the pioneers who’ve gone before them:
The legendary Lady Lea, real name Lea Moscou Barrett, has been in the dance scene for over two decades now. From opening her own record shop in Pretoria called Flipside Records, to spinning in top clubs in the UK, she’s done it all.
In 2003, she returned from her deejay escapades and launched an all-female DJ agency called Divas on Decks which aims to promote young, up-and-coming female DJs.
Zinhle Jiyane, better known as DJ Zinhle is another icon. Having been in Mzansi’s dance scene for well over a decade, DJ Zinhle has featured on South African national radio, television and music charts.
Her 2009 compilation album titled Feminine Touch, released under Kalawa Jazmee Records, cemented her place in the scene. Her 2012 hit single, My Name Is, put her on the map, globally.
She’s gone on to empower fellow females by opening the Firm Understanding of Sound Entertainment (FUSE) Academy with Nomdeni Mdakhi, that aims to support female DJs in pursuing their careers.
I then have to mention Durban-based DJ Cndo. DJ Cndo began to play at Durbans Finest parties in 2005 and other prominent venues such as Tilt, Skyybar and Havana. She made a name for herself through Gagasi FM’s G Session Fridays subsequent to the launch of Gagasi FM in 2006.
To date she is a two-time Metro FM Music Awards winner. DJ Cndo won best dance album in 2011 and best female artist in 2014.
Now, lets look at the DJs and producers who are changing the game:
Thandi Nxumalo aka TanZzanite came onto the scene when the manager of a local club approached her about entering a female DJ competition, Sisters of Spin. She managed to make it to the semi-finals. She was born in the USA then she moved to South Africa in 1996 and was introduced to house music by her brother.
TanZzanite has opened for Lady Lea alongside heavyweights such as Harrison Crump, Shimza, DJs Kent and Euphonik. Since then, she hasn’t looked backed. She’s gone beyond deejaying to being a booking agent for Phoonshal Creative.
Her style of play ranges from soulful and deep house to electro/techno house, on occasion. She boasts a long list of club/event appearances and has even had her mixes featured on 5FM.
If there would ever be a female version of DJs Black Coffee and Shimza, in terms of their ‘effects’ skill set, it would have to be DJ Divalash. Kagiso Modiselle is a Pretoria-based female DJ whose skill set in front of the decks has earned her titles such as ‘the Queen of Effects.’
She is one of the most travelled DJs I’ve come across. Last year November she performed in Angola.
She has, also, performed in countries such as Ghana, Botswana Mozambique, Portugal and the UK.
In February 2013, DJ Divalash won the best international DJ of the year at the Ghana DJ Awards. In that same year she named winner of the seventh edition of the RedSquare DJ KnockOut Challenge becoming the first female to win the competition since its inception.
A battle DJ a heart, Divalash’s Flamboyant nature is well complimented by her up-tempo selection of music dominated by afro house and Afro-beat sounds.
The DuchAz boasts a mass following in the townships such as Alexandra and Tembisa. So much so that she has earned herself the title ‘Kasi-Mlungu.’ Her style resonates around a kwaito, tribal and Afro-house.
Since she took her chance playing at local pubs, she has become an instant hit. Her leap into stardom followed when a friend introduced her to Kalawa Jazmee’s artist manager, Scotch.
DJ Sue – born Tiisetso Sue Motaung – decided to use her friend’s equipment to play birthday parties and braais around Johannesburg back in 2003. She has been in the industry ever since and has continued to be on the forefront of house music in SA. Not your average female DJ, Sue is also a producer and vocalist. Her musical journey has taken her as far as Swaziland, Lesotho, London and even Algeria in North Africa.
Locally she has played almost every deep and soulful house spot that comes to mind. In 2009 till 2011, when Sue shared her expertise as a DJ lecturer as well as assistant lecturer for music production at the Soul Candi Institute of Music. She’s well acquainted with the airwaves having been featured and interviewed on YFM, Metro FM and Ukhozi FMamong other stations.
DJ Sue is currently working towards her debut album. After listening to her latest single titled It Must Be Love, avid listeners of good music will agree that her album will be one to look forward to.
A product of DJ Zinhle’s FUSE Academy, Miss Pru – born Prudence Sebalo. She enrolled at the FUSE Academy in 2009 and went on to become a FUSE Academy lecturer.
She’s played some of house music’s biggest stages including the Dance Ritual Party and the Miami Winter Music Conference alongside heavyweights such as Louie Vega, Josh Milan, Black Coffee and Oskido, among others.
Most recently, Miss Pru released her single Welele, featuring Jika Boys. Hinting at more singles, we can hopefully look forward to an album. Until then, you can catch her on Cliffcentral.com’s Rookies Rockstars every Wednesday morning.
Penelope ‘Miz-Dee’ Dlamini is a self-taught female producer/DJ whom I regard as one of the most underrated house music producers in Mzansi. After developing a love for deep house, she began associating herself with local house heads and producers.
In 2011, Miz-Dee met producer extraordinaire Chymamusique who has served well as her mentor.
She has done nothing but shown growth in her music. Her taste in music is more soulful with jazz-infused melodies. Last year she had two amazing releases: one was a remix of Andy Compton’s Sowetan Onesteps, I Belong and the other being a collaborative effort alongside Dolls Combers titled Father’s Prayer.
Would you believe me if I told you the list goes on and on? Indeed there is a rise in the number of women staking claim to Mzansi’s dance scene. It is all a matter of taking a closer look. I mean, names such as Zothea, DJ Roxxi, Lady Sakhe, Lady Zeejay and DJ Kimmy K all come to mind as worthy mentions but I suppose that will be one for another day.