This month’s theme for the monthly top 3 contest on the Hive crypto-blogging blockchain was one that the team just must have known I couldn’t pass up. I started thinking about my selection the instant the post appeared on 1 July.
I “compete” for fun
I’m getting a little ahead of myself: I always say that I don’t “do” these compteitions to win, and I don’t, so imagine my surprise after last month’s contest, and I see this in the post announcing the winners. With this list.
Thank you for asking: yes, I did win a little prize – in crypto currency – which just popped into my wallet. Thank you to the @yourtop3 team that rewards rambling tenacity!!
Note to self: sometimes it pays off to work hard at just having a bit of fun!
Picking a winning lead
As I’ve already said, this is a hard task for me. I ended Sunday, when I really began working on this, with a list of 14. Then that got derailed by posts from a couple of blogpals like this one and then this one and this one….
I had a series of criteria worked out: the voice, the looks, the sheer talent, and then because I’m a patriot of note, my best South African lead singers. Anyhow, I am in a busy patch and I’m not going to
bore run you through a history of where, when, what and whom, but I will share some of my favourites. Of course. Not.
One of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever heard is Darius Rucker from Hootie & the Blowfish. That dinctive gravel just does it for me every time I hear it and I stop and listen. And yes it takes me back to the 80’s….
Then there’s Heather Small from the M-People. There is a depth and timbre to her voice that is recogniseable anywhere. From having heard her being interviewed when she was in South Africa, she seems like a downright nice and good person, too.
I love this song and its has a universal message as apposite today as it was in 1994.
My next serious contender is Stevie Nicks. She was part of the lineup of Fleetwood Mac in their heyday – a band that’s featured in other entries this month. She, though, has a voice that is so versatile and distinctive. There are a few songs from the Rumours album that just nobody can do. Like this one.
One of my favourites in between albums, is this duet with Tom Petty. Here it is, just because I can and because it takes me back to about 1982….
final voice just has to go to Jim Morrison from The Doors. He also fits into the categories of gorgeous and talented. Like so many in the talented category, tortured and wasted. Sad.
This is another song which, in this time of Covid really resonates. But that’s another story. Perhaps for another time.
Still in the gorgeous, talented and voice category must be Jon Bon Jovi. This song has resonance (I’m saying that a lot…) for me because it came out after my mother had died and my father was dying. It was an anthem then. It should be an anthem for everyone. For ever.
I defy anyone not to dance to this. I still do. Whenever I hear it.
Talent and viruosity
Anyone who knows me, and who has followed my blog will know that I will never ignore Freddie Mercury. I shan’t repeat what I’ve said before. Although Jazz is often remembered for Fat Bottomed Girls and Bicycle Race, this Brian May-penned song, perfectly showcases Mercury’s beautiful voice and maginficent range.
I could go on – there are so many more, but I’m running out of
your attention time, so let me come home.
South African songbirds
We have great music talent in South Africa, one of whom I celebrated and lamented here. However, today, I’m selecting three great women.
PJ’s music career and my life have kind of run in parallel. Known also as Thandeka and best known internationally for her rendition of The World in Union for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, she’s
risen above well, let’s just say, she’s done more than pull herself up by her bootstraps. My first memory of seeing her live was in 1986 in the Underground – which really was – at the Chelsea Hotel in Hilbrow, Johannesburg. We danced until the wee hours. We and she were the last people staggering standing.
More recently, I’ve seen her perform in Cape Town. When I asked her to sign the CD we bought, I mentioned this and she said: “I saw you – in the front row – you knew ever word!” I did. I do. Just a few months ago in an intimate venue here in McGregor. I did. I will. Sing. Every. Word. Again.
This is one of her signature songs. Jabulani means “happy”. It is also the name a stadium in Soweto where she and Hotline – the band with which she sang – performed in the 1980s. At the time, it was illegal for people of race to share a stage. And for white folk to be in a black township. Some of my happiest memories – ever – are of my times, dancing in Soweto in the mid-1980s.
Also from around the same time, is Mango Groove. Their posters adorned every underpass the bus traversed on my way to and from work in the centre of Johannesburg. Claire Johnston who has also visited, but not performed in, McGregor, has the voice of an angel. I love the early work which is vibey, afro-fusion and just fun. It really is get-up-and-dance music. You just have to. It still does it for me so many years later.
This song is just has so many levels to it. It came out as South Africa was heading towards her first democratic elections. A time of such hope and happiness. Here, she sings with my final South African songbird, Zolane Mahola.
Mahola not only has a beautiful voice, but she’s multi talented and hails from my home province of the Eastern Cape. She’s the lead singer of the Afro fusion band, Freshlyground that is a miscellany of so many talented musicians whose music has also punctuated my life. We first saw them perform at Kirstenbosh Gardens before they hit the big time. This song hadn’t even been released when they played that concert, but Mahola sang it that day and it’s haunted me ever since.
My current favourite top 3 lead singers
As I write, I’m still hard pressed to choose just three. There are so many others that I’ve not included: Diana Ross and her liquid silver voice. The lead singers from REM and Simple Minds whose names escape me….
So, just for Q:
My current top 3, and it’ll probably change tomorrow:
Freddie Mercury, Stevie Nicks and…Jim Morrison
Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
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4 thoughts on “Taking the Lead”