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Saturday, July 29, 2017


On invite by EThekwini Municipality, Department of Arts & Living Cultures and Essence Festival the Durban based all-female jazz band Heels over Head presented a stunning performance at the Festival in New Orleans on June 30. John Legend and Diana Ross, Solange and Mary J. Blige, were just some of the performers that were performing alongside Heels over Head at this prestigious festival.

“The girls”, as they are affectionately known, presented a set of their African influenced easy breezy pop jazz, as their signature sound is referred to. They got the audience on their feet and dancing to their rhythmic bass lines and cheerful melodies. The band presented themselves with a sparkling stage presence, looking classy and stylish with an African touch.

As always, the audience did not miss the charm and charisma of their lead vocalist Thulile Zama. She was joined by skilled drummer Rebekah Pillay and accomplished pianist Lindi Ngonelo and bassist Tebogo Sedumedi, known to many, added the lady funk. Last, but not least, they featured smoking hot guitarist Chillie Stent and the flaming fusion of musicians was complete.

“It was a huge honour to be selected for a performance at this festival. We have worked for many years to create opportunities like these. Not only was the performance itself a great experience, but being in such a lively musical city and being a guest at a prestigious event like Essence, was enriching and humbling,” says vocalist Thulile Zama.

Drummer Rebekah Doty adds: “We want to be an example to other female musicians and show them that everything is possible. It has been a new challenge to perform for a different audience from what we are used to. This trip has been a great motivation to keep the band going and also our creativity has gotten a boost. Hopefully this will lead to the recording of our long awaited third album.”

The love of jazz music weaved these girls together towards to end of 2008 to form this unique musical force. Since then the girls are always occupied with composing, rehearsing and recording new music and with lots of performances around KwaZulu-Natal and the country.

The Essence Festival, known as "the party with a purpose", is an annual music festival which started in 1995 as a one-time event to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essence, a magazine aimed primarily towards African-American women. It is the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States.

Heels over Head was not the only band from Durban performing at Essence Festival, also IThwasa Lekhansela, Afrika Mama’s and AfroSoul were invited to represent South Africa in New Orleans. The result? A strong representation of what Durban has to offer to the world.

The Essence Festival Durban will take place from September 26 to October 1, 2017, at the Durban ICC and Durban Exhibition Centre. For more information visit