Music News South Africa

#MusicExchange: Ernestine Deane

Songstress Ernestine Deane celebrates her return from Europe on Wednesday, 9 August 2017, with her first full-length concert in the Mother City with an all-female band in honour of Women's Day.
#MusicExchange: Ernestine Deane

Known as the vocalist of iconic SA hip hop band Moodphase5ive and respected as a solo artist in music, film and theatre performances, Deane has a career spanning more than two decades.

I caught up with Deane to find what music means to her, and more...

BizcommunityWhen are you happiest?

Definitely on stage.

BizcommunityWhat does music mean to you?

Music has given me life, revived me, and uplifted me, time and time again.

BizcommunityHave you had any funny moments on stage?

Forgetting my lyrics and scatting the entire verse.

BizcommunityWho are your heroes?

My uncle Ernie, a reggae guitarist, who first put a mic in my hand when I was four. The many unsung artists, in SA who keep creating, keep performing, regardless of the many challenges facing musicians in SA.

BizcommunityWhich living person do you admire most and why?

This is a difficult question to answer. I am not one to put people on pedestals, but I must say that I hugely admire the work of Emile Jansen of Black Noise and the heal the hood project. He's been working tirelessly for three decades to bring self empowerment to the youth of our Cape Flats communities by teaching the skills of hip hop, taking around 200 break dancers to international festivals around the world.

It’s your round, what are you drinking?

Haha, hmmm very light on petrol and not much of a drinker. I'm going to bore you with rooibos tea, ginger and honey, or an appletiser!

BizcommunityWhat makes you stand out?

I cut my teeth in the industry as the first singer for hip-hop band, Black Noise, when I was only 16. It was a time of political uprising and youth revolution, originality. We composed our own music; there was so much to say about the time we were living in. Then I found success with Moodphase5ive. Another original act. So I've always written and performed my own songs and had the opportunity to develop confidence in my own unique style, without copying others.


Family nicknames are 'Tinkles', Teen, Stiena, but the fans call me Ernie.

#MusicExchange: Ernestine Deane

BizcommunityIf you were not a musician what would you do?

I actually can't imagine not being one. Next question.

BizcommunityPick five words to describe yourself

Kind, funny, sensitive, artistic and sensual.

What song changed your life?

My song Praha paradise, which I wrote in Prague at the end of a tour in 2001. It's paid my rent a few times, bringing in royalties from film soundtracks, radio play in the Czech Republic, always in the nick of time, when I need it most. It has shown me the value of intellectual property.

BizcommunityGive us some real proper slang and what it means

'Aweh' it is a greeting and acknowledgement, which originated from the Cape Flats, but has been integrated into the general Cape Town vocabulary. I like to hear it 'phonetically' too. To keep me 'aware' hahahahaa.

BizcommunityWhat is your greatest achievement?

I love hearing from other female singers of how I inspire them to keep going with their original work. I have been in this industry for 26 years and seen a lot of insecurity and negative competition. I have achieved a lot when young singers find me approachable and unthreatening and understand that I can support and share my experience with them. It means that I keep learning from them too, by staying youthful and relevant.

BizcommunityWhat do you complain about most often?

The disgusting state of our music industry. The fact that our music industry has been abandoned, never been supported and developed as a sector in South Africa. Leaving musicians to die in poverty, and without dignity, after investing their lives in the arts, to the detriment of their own wellness.

#MusicExchange: Ernestine Deane

BizcommunityWhere would you like to be right now?

Erm, did I say Fiji?

Show details:

Wednesday 9 August 2017
Café Roux, 74 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town.
Doors open for dinner from 6.30pm, show starts at 8.30pm.
Tickets R120 via Webtickets.

Connect with Ernestine Dean via Facebook and Twitter or visit

About Martin Myers

Co-owner at Triple M Entertainment, founder Music Exchange, manager Sipho Hotstix Mabuse
Let's do Biz