Opening for UB40 at last years Stanbic Music Festival was the highlight of my performance calendar. This year I got to open for Boyz II Men and once again the festival was my favourite gig of the year – so far anyway.

I can honestly say that last year I wasn’t quite prepared for the scale of the event, I wasn’t sure what to play or what sort of crowd it would be but everything worked out and I had an absolute party on stage. This year I was so excited when I got the call again and couldn’t wait to put together a killer set for it. I’m a 90s kid and had the best time spending hours going through 90s hits deciding which to learn to throw into my set as a little surprise nostalgic trip for the audience, they seemed to love it! Hearing thousands of people singing as loud as they could made me feel like the songs were my own. Speaking of my own songs though, it was pretty special to play a little teaser for my home crowd of an unreleased original I’ve been working on. The track didn’t even have a title yet at the festival, its since been named ‘La Prima’.

Negative online comments don’t bug me as much these days as they used to. I still sort of take a deep breath before reading anything but have learnt to read between the lines a little better and all the love and positivity I receive daily definitely outshines the negative stuff. It still wasn’t easy the day before the festival to see posts questioning the decision to make me the curtain raiser, questioning what place I had at the festival being a violinist and not an R&B artist – even questioning if I could be considered a local Zambian artist (because the opening lineup is all local). It was silly and I knew it was just a few people out of thousands but I got on stage feeling like everyone had already decided I sucked. I’ve never had to have such absolute confidence in myself as I did that first night. I don’t know why I ever doubted a Zambian crowd to be anything but supportive of me, they were incredible. I got off stage feeling totally empowered and ready to read all the online comments anyone cared to throw my way because I knew I’d done my best and made a lot of people proud.

The reviews that did come in were all pretty amazing and I had a follow up interview with Lusaka Times too.

I can’t end this post without talking about my outfits. On both nights I wore local designer pieces. The first you might recognize from my Something just like this video – by Mangishi Doll. On the second night I wore an amazing dress by Esnoko – I’d seen it shared on Instagram and needed it in my life. I couldn’t have been complimented on it more.

Oh what a couple of nights – there’s no place like a home-stage.

Incredible India

There’s nothing quite like Indian hospitality. Growing up I always just thought that my Indian friends’ parents were just being polite when they would insist that I visit them more often or join them for meals whenever I liked (coz let’s be real there’s nothing quite like Indian cuisine either) but this was my second trip to India, to a whole new region and I’ve decided it’s a genuine trait of Indian culture to be unbelievably welcoming.

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Have Violin Will Travel

You know, it was only a year ago that I was at a gig in Zambia that a big South African act was booked to play at too; they caught the last available flight into Lusaka on show day (just in time for their set) because they had a gig earlier that day in Johannesburg. At the time I thought the organizers were crazy to have agreed to the whole arrangement but it thankfully all worked out without any glitches.

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Yoga Pants in Kuwait

I last visited Kuwait in 2011. I remember the trip well for a few reasons:

1. I was terribly concerned about what I would have to wear whilst there and for some reason believed I’d have to wear the loosest fitting clothing I owned. I discovered on my arrival, that Kuwaiti women are some of the most stylish I’ve ever come across and loose fitting clothing isn’t at all necessary. I spent the entire time I was there in loose yoga pants and baggy tops because that’s all that I’d packed. The rule seems to be skin-showing (shoulders, thighs, cleavage etc) is a no-no but skin tight clothing is totally fine. Go figure.
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Opening for UB40

When I was booked for the Stanbic Music Festival in Lusaka, Zambia back in mid-2016 I was initially pretty concerned about how I would fit into the festival line-up. It’s previously been known as the ‘Stanbic Jazz Festival’ and although I do have the habit of playing a blues-y riff when sound checking; I definitely wouldn’t rate my technical abilities as jazz tier – so I relaxed when I heard that it was being re branded to appeal to a wider audience. Then I found out I’d be opening for International reggae legends UB40 and the pressure was back on – never mind jazz lovers, what the hell would die hard reggae fans think of me?!
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