City Press interviews Leee John before his trip to SA

2017-09-24 08:57
 Leee John

Johannesburg - With a career spanning well over three decades, singer Leee John answers his phone with as much drama fused with funk as his famous music from the 1980s. At a school in France, where he’s spending the day, he is warm, friendly and excited as he excuses himself for a few seconds to accept grapes from a little girl who runs up to him to share her treats.

“I’m at a school for handicapped children in Bordeaux, France, and literally just got off a horse in the middle of the vineyard,” he says, laughing.

“Contributing to the wellbeing of society is something that’s important to me. I’ve done it over the years – investing my time, talent and energy to help grow a better community for others and show them love. I plan to do the same during my visit to South Africa.”

Leee John will be in the country for the DStv Delicious International Food and Music Festival next weekend at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit for a performance on Sunday.

He will be on stage alongside his band Imagination, an English three-piece soul music band that came to prominence in the early 1980s after releasing hits such as Music and Lights, Changes and Just an Illusion, and achieving more than 30 million album sales worldwide.

“I think of the 1980s as a period when we took time to look good, to look crazy. The music was about groove, what we wore was an escape for us as artists and for our fans, and the music and its melodies formed part of that culture. It was part of your life and just a different way in which we all communicated with each other. That’s why music from the 1980s has been able to transcend from one generation to the next.”

Not only is the flamboyant singer promoting his new album Retropia, he is also working on a film project. The next single off the album, which has been warmly received by critics and fans, is called Fantasia.

“I’m a patron for SOS [Children’s Villages], a worldwide charity for orphans. I’ve filmed a lot for them in places like Cape Town and even Tunisia to raise awareness for the charity. For about the past five years, I’ve been working on Flashblack – the history of the UK’s black music.”

During a South African tour in 1994, John spent time with the Mandela family and says Winnie Mandela cooked for him.

“That was just after Nelson Mandela was released, and I was doing charity work for Operation Hunger with Zindzi Mandela.”

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