“I’m going against the flow,” Leah van Niekerk reveals. “I want my music to show that there’s more to Afrikaans music than people expect. My sound’s entirely familiar and comfortable, but the subtle nuances are in there too, actively pushing the evolution of the music I love so much.”
Armed with 2 albums, of which the second one is a deluxe version with 4 new tracks, 2 remixes and a surprise acoustic track, Leah’s incredibly well qualified on a multitude of levels. A BComm Law and Waterfront Theatre School graduate, Leah grew up in a house filled with her father’s choice of tunes. “Music’s always been in my blood,” she adds. “Both my parents have always been incredibly supportive. My mom has always encouraged me to be ethical and honest in all I do, which may sound odd, but they’re qualities I work hard at and apply to everything I do.”
Having entered a vast number of music competitions, while feeding off television work in between, Leah’s break came via her modelling, which got her noticed and published on the front page of the Rapport in November 2011. Soon after that, celebrated songwriter Johan Vorster heard her sing and immediately went to work, securing a recording contract mere months later.
Between working on her highly anticipated debut album and trying to build a profile in the music industry, the twenty–something year old, recently married songbird was also invited to act and sing in the highly acclaimed 2013 big screen success As Jy Sing. “It was amazing experience. I loved every moment and would love to do more films,” she hints.
Johan and Christoph Kotzé wrote most of the tracks that make up her inaugural collection of game-changing vernacular cool. “What I do is more contemporary than pop,” Leah alludes. “Think Early Rihanna, mixed with a little Jason Mraz, some Jack Johnson, and a whole big scoop of passion-fuelled organic freshness.”
Not a single track overproduced, the likes of “Ek Moes Jou Gesoen Het”, featuring Bobby van Jaarsveld, celebrates her natural, God-given talent from start to finish. “I just want to perform and play,” she admits. “Growing up, Laurika Rauch and Karen Wessels’ “Hoe Durf Jy” were names and songs that resonated with me to such an extent that I’m emulating them now and all they and their music represents. Only this time I’m delivering it on my terms.”
Pop’s mezzo-soprano, capable and tertiary trained, Leah’s anything but an overnight, or one-hit wonder wannabee. What she is, is 100% authentic, brave and critical of the music most people are happy to process and party to on a weekly basis. “I push myself every single day, vocally, physically and emotionally, to be the very best I can be in everything I do,” she shares. “Otherwise what’s the point?”
Challenging her vocal chords, and welcoming her audience along for the ride, is what Leah excels at. “I always aim to take my listeners on a journey,” Leah hints. Think High C, piano, some light guitar, and a funky weird and entirely modern interpretation of the world around her. Leah’s proven she’s the real deal – all before her first of many Number One hit single positions.
“I’m all grown up and loving my life,” she concludes. “I’m more mature now that I was when I first started out in the music business. Today I’m settled and entirely connected with what I want to achieve. I know what I want, and with that comes insight into fully understanding that good things are well worthy of the wait.” A lot like Leah’s first foray into pop chart domination.
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