“Don’t change anything about yourself to fit into what you’re hearing on the radio. Do you, and do it proudly and people will take notice when it’s time.”
These are the wise words of advice that Australian singer, songwriter and actor, Thando, has for aspiring singers. Born in Zimbabwe, the R&B and soul singer, moved with her parents to Australia when her mother got a job as a radiographer when she was a child. That initial 3-year contract led the family to settling Down Under and living in Canberra for many years.
So what was it like growing up as an African youth in Australia?
There’s obviously been a lot of headlines doing the rounds in the media in recent times about the so-called ‘African gang crisis’.
“It was good for the most part. The toughest thing was being the only black kid at my school so I really didn’t feel comfortable retaining any of who I was ‘cause I couldn’t relate to anyone. I assimilated to a point even my cousins back home couldn’t recognise me when I went back to visit,” Thando admits.
Her response to recent media attention doesn’t pull any punches…
“It’s really disappointing when a country built on multiculturalism allows certain ethnic groups to be vilified in the media. People form ignorant opinions due to the behaviour of a certain few and as a result, we’re all painted with one brush. So I feel with my platform, it’s my responsibility to showcase the good African youths are doing in this community. And in turn, hopefully, change a few minds along the way.”
Fans were first introduced to Thando’s incredible talent thanks to her appearance on the TV show, The Voice, an audition she says was driven largely by people telling her to audition for the reality TV show. Since, she’s wowed audiences with her larger than life voice with a string of singles including Won’t You Be Mine and her most recent release, Numb featuring Remi. And then there’s Thando’s promising acting career, which she set alight when taking on the lead role of Effie in the Australian stage production version of Dreamgirls.
Despite crowds marvelling at her amazing gospel voice, Thando admits to feeling nervous on-stage, especially when doing theatre.
“I can improv with my original music because it’s unique in that way, but theatre is tough because everyone knows the role! I find a nip of brandy helps before I go on stage.”
We can all agree that a nip of brandy (or whatever takes our fancy) has been known to save the day on certain occasions! As for women the Melbourne based singer looks up to, she points towards her mother as being a constant source of inspiration.
“She’s the definition of a strong woman. She’s ambitious, compassionate and my best friend. I hope to one day be that person for my children – in the distant future!”
As for what music means to Thando…
We’ll leave this incredibly talented young woman who’s using her platform for good, with the final words.
“It’s the reason I get out of bed every day. I love creating and especially enjoy seeing people connect with my music.”
Feature image credit: Wilson Liew
Thando is embarking on her Numb national tour in 2018, visit her website to see where she’s playing and to buy tickets.