PJ Powers stays true to herself
people are familiar with the name Penelope Jane Dunlop. But the minute you
mention the name PJ Powers, who is also affectionately known as Thandeka,
people know exactly who you’re talking about.
IN HER LIFE
True to her
name Thandeka, this star is loved by many. Even the late Nelson Mandela was her
biggest fan. When asked how the name came about, she explains that she got it
during the apartheid days when she was part of a band called Hotline. “We went
out there and sang our hearts out during a festival. The crowd loved the
performance and started calling me Thandeka. The name stuck,” she recalls. But
it’s hard for her to pin-point one emotion with regards to Madiba being her
biggest fan. She says Tata was and continues to be an inspiration in her life. PJ
Powers, who has a musical career that spans more than 40 years, attributes her
staying power to authenticity and never forgetting where she comes from. “Staying
true to yourself and surrounding yourself with good people helps,” she says. “I
have a very close relationship with my mother who is now 92 and she helps me
stay grounded. It’s so easy to lose yourself in this industry.”
WITH ALCOHOL ABUSE
But it has
not been smooth sailing for the Jabulani hitmaker. She has also struggled with alcohol abuse. She
looks back at it and says it was the lowest point of her colourful showbiz
career. She says when a certain supermarket chain store used her name to
promote alcohol, she felt insulted and hurt. “That they would make light of
something so serious and real fornot only me, but many people in this country
was wrong and uncalled for,” she points out. The matter was put to rest through
legal action and the advert was later discontinued.
award-winning musician has partnered with Khulisa Social Solutions to run a
mentorship programme for young people from underprivileged backgrounds. The mentors impart wisdom and resources where
they can to support and encourage the youth to excel in their studies and
future pursuits. “I’m a huge believer in educating and helping other people.
This is the perfect opportunity to do exactly that,” she says.