Boney M’s Liz on upcoming SA shows: It will be an event long remembered

2018-10-23 08:00
Liz Mitchell

Cape Town – For many people around the world, Christmas music sounds like a Boney M song played through a car speaker on the way back home from visiting loved ones or via a modern Bluetooth speaker at a big family luncheon. Either way, the music delivers the same nostalgic feeling of the festive season with family.

Lucky local audiences will get a taste of the band’s famous Christmas CD brought to life onstage when they return to South Africa in summer 2018 for two shows, stopping first at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town on 23 December and then at Sun Arena, Time Square in Menlyn on 24 December. 

In the lead up to this, one of the most perfectly timed international concerts to hit SA shores, Channel24 spoke to Boney M’s Liz Mitchell about why they chose to come back (for a third time), what fans can expect and a whole lot more, including how she became involved with the iconic band. 


Liz Mitchell

For many fans Liz’s, voice is the sound of Boney M, but she actually started off with the band on a trial basis. 

Here’s the whole story of how she joined Boney M from the woman herself; "I received a call from Katja Wolff back in 1976 but it wasn’t to join the group, only to assist them. 

"What happened was I was in the Les Humphries Singers and the backing tracks they were going to be using for that particular event came from the Les Humphries Singers repertoire. 

"So, because I knew the songs, they called me and asked me just to do three shows. So, in actual fact I didn’t have an agreement with Katja Wolff, other than that. I would do those three shows and be back home on the Monday. 

"Then, Mr Frank Farian and his wife came to my last show in Berlin and saw me perform and asked me to work with him, that’s really how that happened. I accepted their offer, because between him and his wife, they offered me the opportunity to ‘try out’ for one year with the option to stay on but if it didn’t work out, then I could go back to college. So, I tried out and it worked out." 

Liz Mitchell

About the upcoming SA shows Liz said she was initially unsure of spending Christmas performing away from her family but her husband Thomas Pemberton convinced her otherwise. She explained; "I don’t normally do shows around Christmas time. Most years I’m headed home at least by the 22nd so I can stay home with the family for Christmas. 

"But, for some strange reason, there has been very strong interest in us coming to South Africa at Christmas. So, there was actually a little bit of back and forth because I wanted to be with my family but my husband, who is also my manager, said to me ‘they really want us to be there’ so that’s how we decided to be there. It’s because of the fans’ true desire for us to be there."

Liz Mitchell

Boney M have put together a memorable show for fans, with lots of classics to sing along to, according to the singer. She explained; "Well because it’s a Christmas programme, mainly, you’ll get songs that we ordinarily wouldn’t perform from the Christmas album. And of course, there are iconic hits that we can’t leave out such as Rivers of Babylon, Daddy Cool and others. 

"We’ll create a nice memorable programme for the people and I trust that it will be an event long remembered."


Looking at her career as a whole, Liz said that after decades and decades in the music industry, there’s isn’t one big thing that wished she known from the start;"It’s more than one thing, it’s a lot of things," she laughingly explained.

Adding; "It’s never one thing it’s a lot of things because you learn that show business is one of the most complicated industries in the world. 

"The agreement you make is based on you not knowing what’s going to happen next. So, it’s a guessing game and you’ve got to really believe in yourself and know who you are. If you don’t [know yourself] then all the good things that could be yours, suddenly, aren’t. Yeah there’s a lot of things, that I wish I had known."

Boney M

She’s travelled the world and done countless shows, but there’s only one thing she needs wherever she goes; "I know it might sound strange to some people, but I really do need The Word with me and if I don’t have a Bible with me, then I’ve found that even just studying certain verses keeps me going. 

"You know, other people need other things like maybe a necklace or something that they hold onto from their mothers or fathers. But I’ve always hung onto the word."

A lot of performers have one or two songs that they love to perform live but for Liz it all depends on the crowd, saying; "It’s very difficult to choose my favourite song because every night I do a show I find that sometimes one song will ascend higher than the others. 

"It really depends on who the audience is and what they’re expecting. So, there are times when Daddy Cool is the highlight of the evening and then there are other times when Rivers of Babylon is the highlight. Another time it’s just Brown Girl in The Ring, people love that one."


"All these songs have their own fan base and I believe that when it an artist performs, it shouldn’t be for themselves – it’s not about me – it’s about the audience and what they respond to on the night and I try and give them what they want. 

"I’m actually very happy to have such a wide selection of songs that speaks to hearts all over the world."

(Photos: Getty)


Date: Sunday, 23 December
Venue: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town
Time: from 17:30
Cost: R290 – R350

Tickets are available from Webtickets.   


Date: Monday, 24 December
Venue: Sun Arena, Time Square, Menlyn
Time: 19:00
Cost: R195 - R495

Tickets are available from Howler. 

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