singer songwriter voice artist poet actor writer producer film maker ritual creator
A natural storyteller, Ernestine’s lyrics cut to the bone. It is the combination of her honest song writing skills and unforgettable melodies that earns her royalties off several international and local compilation albums, commercials, soundtracks, documentaries and film scores.
Ernestine grew up on the Cape Flats in Grassy Park, Cape Town and started singing professionally with Hip Hop legends, Black Noise, at the tender age of 15. Later she found a home with Moodphase5ive who rose to the top of the SA music scene between 1998 and 2005.
Ernestine has been featured in magazines far and wide from the South African O mag, Elle and Cosmopolitan to the Dutch de Oor, the British Wallpaper, German Vogue and French Jalouse. Ernestine is herself a freelance arts journalist and has contributed to publications such as the O mag and South African arts quarterly, Rootz. She has appeared on several television and radio shows locally and abroad, amongst others Pasella, Top Billing andMTV Europe.
A former drama and Social Science student, she put her acting skills to work playing the mother of ‘Twist’ in the feature film ‘Boy called Twist’ in 2003, a Cape Town take on the Dickens classic by acclaimed director Tim Greene. Her voice and original music also grace the film score. The film was warmly received at the 2005 Cannes film festival.
During her first pregnancy in 2003, Ernestine was inspired to write an introspective account of her family’s history as farmers and landowners in the now affluent Cape Town wine land, Constantia, before they were forcibly removed by the Group Area’s Act instituted by the Apartheid government. This led to a collaboration with filmmaker Kali van der Merwe of Otherwise-media to make the musical documentary ‘Brown’. Their combined efforts resulted in a heartwarming and sensitive tale of triumph over suffering as punctuated by Ernie’s lyrics and script.
The film premiered at the 2004 Encounters documentary festival and garnered prestigious film awards at the 2005 Milano Film Festival in Italy (Best Afro/Asian/Latin category), the annual Durban Film Festival and the Apollo Film Festival as Best African/South African Documentary. The film has traveled to international film festivals in Zanzibar, Switzerland (Fribourg), Italy, Czech Republic, and Australia and has been licensed for broadcast on SABC, DSTV and CTV.
Ernestine has collaborated and shared the stage with top S.A. artists as diverse as Breyten Breytenbach, Arno Carstens, Mac Mckenzie, Blk Sonshine, Hilton Schilder, Tamara Dey, Max Normal, Goddessa, Alex van Heerden, Tim Parr, Mark Fransman, Tasha Baxter, Krushed & Sorted, Concorde Nkabinde, Black Coffee, Simphiwe Dana, Barry van Zyl, Freshlyground, Bongo Maffin, The Honeymoon suites, Springbok Nude girls, Jitsvinger,Teba, EJ von Lyrik, Gerald Clarke, Neo Muyanga, Zolani Mahola, Gabi le Roux.
With Moodphase5ive, She has supported international artists, African stars: Cesaria Evora, Khadja Nin; Manu Dibango, Ismael Lo; Miriam Makeba; Hugh Masekela; Vusi Mahlasela
New York poets, Sarah Jones, Saul Wiliams, Jamaican dub poet: Muta Baruka, Reggae legend: Horace Andy; Ninja Tunes artists: Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, New York hip hop artists: Cucumber Slice, Mr. Len and Tsidi Ibrahim (daughter of Abdullah) aka mc What What?, Talib Kweli, ‘Black Thought’ of the Roots, as well as English acts: Morcheeba, Basement Jaxx, Mica Paris, Omar, Asian Dub Foundation, Brand New Heavies; Puerto Rican percussionist Efrain Torro.
Ernestine has collaborated with the Red Bull DJ Academy, working with amongst others, London dubstep producer, Ben Zinc, South Africa's Black Coffee, multi-talented L.A. trumpeter/vocalist, Aloe Blacc, as well as Parisian pianist/producer, Wally Badarou and French reggae band City Kay.
She has frequently toured the music festival circuit in Belgium, Holland, Germany and the Czech Republic, where she wrote the epic single ‘Praha Paradise’ on her first visit to Prague in 2001. The track continues to receive airplay on Czech state radio and the famous European radio station, Radio One. A new version of the song appears on the album Dub for Mama. Some of the international festivals she has performed at are the Haarlem Jazz Festival, Womad, Hove Live Festival, Pukkelpop, Westerpop, Global Connection, The Lowlands Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival, Spier Poetry Exchange as well as South African festivals, Cape Town international jazz festival, Greenpop, Rocking the daisies, Infecting the city.
Ernestine is currently recording and performing her new material in English, Afrikaans and Nama San with her all woman project, Dub for Mama- bringing a much needed female presence to the South African music industry today. The band has featured Terryl Bell on drums, Nobuhle Ashanti on keyboards, Tiana Marwanqana on electric bass, Carly Nauta and Rayelle Goodman on violin.
Her social activism is evident throughout her work- her poetic lyrics addressing many of the issues facing the world and particularly Sub- Saharan Africa today: the effects of post- colonialist poverty, the abuse of the earth and its resources, the plight of oppressed women and the dispossession of the indigenous San peoples, of which she is descendant. Still her music remains hopeful and empowering- an uplifting blend of reggae and neo soul, driven by infectious grooves.
Ernestine presents her film screenings and workshops at various schools and community or social platforms. She has represented South African musicians in parliament in their plea for regulation and protection within the South african music industry- and is co-founder of the trade union for South African musicians, TUMSA.
- 1993 tours South Africa with Black Noise for the voter's education campaign
- 1993 Performs for Nelson Mandela
- 2000- 2004 voice overs for DSTV, Smart car, Redds cider, Discovery channel
- 2000 released Steady on, with Moodphase5ive
- 2001 performed at North sea jazz festival, sharing press conference with Miriam Makeba
- April 2001, ‘Uneek’ with (Moodphase5ive) holds no.1 on the P4 Radio charts for three consecutive weeks.
- 2002 SAMA nomination for best dance album with Moodphase5ive for African dope compilation 1.
- 2002 Moodphase5ive headlines with Morcheeba at the historic ‘Paradiso’ in Amsterdam, host to legends such as Bob Marley, Parliament, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and James Brown,
- 2002 Headlines with Jazzanova in Prague
- 2004 world premiere of autobiographical documentary, Brown, at Waterfront Cinema Nouveau, Cape Town– Encounters Documentary festival, 4 international awards)
- 2005 Acting in and performing for the soundtrack of award-winning film, Boy called Twist, premiered in Cannes
- 2008 Dub for Mama selected as ‘album of the week’ on Germany’s largest online radio station, wom.fm
- 2007 Think Again and Prayer for Cape Town licensed by NOKIA LONDON for the N91 mobile phone
- 2008 Brown featured at MOFFOM film festival, Prague
- 2008 Collaborating with Paris based composer/keyboardist Wally Badarou in 2008- famous for his work with Level 42, Sly and Robbie, Grace Jones and his soundtrack on the Jamaican cult film, 'Country man'.
- 2008 selected by the U.S. Consulate General IVLP to represent South Africa in an American arts tour to Seattle, New York, Philadelphia, Texas and Washington D.C. sponsored by the U.S. State department
- 2008 contributes Afrikaans compositions for the audio-documentary, As die klok stil staan on the history of slavery in Cape Town, by Elna Boesak, 2008- Aktv award winner
- 2009 receives NAC grant for her production White Paper Boats- an ongoing performance ritual that fuses music and origami in remembering the great impact of the slave ship route to Cape Town, South Africa
- 2010 performed at the Cape Town International Jazz festival withMikanic and Zolan
- 2010 Performed with Mac Mckenzie’s 27 piece Goema orchestra in Goema Symphony no. 1, guesting with Hilton Schilder and Madosini
- 2011 immigrates to Germany and signs with Delicious tunes
- 2014 No.1 S. A. artist on Global Rockstar world charts, Austria with Think Again
- 2014 records 'die Kind' in Afrikaans, for Ingrid jonker tribute album, die Kind is nog jonger
- 2015 relocates to Cape Town
- 2015 performs for German vice president at German consulate, Cape Town
- 2016 speaker at CTEMF
- 2016 performs at Greenpop festival
- 2017 ambassador for Greenpop Arbour day campaign
- 2017 signs with Arte Viva management, South Africa
- 2017 launches all woman band Dub for Mama
- 2017 performs at Cape Town Fringe festival
- 2018 lead role and voice over in TV commercial 'Coronation- trust everyday)
- 2018 co-creates water project with Natalie Fisher, Adele Blank, Zolani Mahola, Su Lubner, 'Our call for rain'
- 2018 co-writes 'Camissa' with Zolani Mahola and Su Lubner for 'Our call for rain'.
- 2018 establishes TUMSA Trade union for musicians in South Africa
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