songstress-filmmaker-lyricist-melody maker-light worker

Affectionately known to her fans as ‘Ernie’, Ernestine Deane gained huge popularity in South Africa as lead vocalist for S.A. super group, Moodphase5ive.

Having released two albums with the live hip-hop band, Steady On and in Superdeluxe Mode and with several performances on local and international recordings, she independently released her debut solo album online in Dub for Mama in 2007 and is currently working on various other releases- including her first Afrikaans release.

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.

Born in 1974, Ernie 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.

Her off beat version of ‘Amazing Grace’ receives regular radio play on Heart FM and her compositions with Moodphase5ive still receive airplay on radio stations across S.A. (YFM. SAFM, Goodhope FM, etc.)

Her striking looks and talent have 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, contributing 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.

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.

Her social activism is evident throughout her work- her poetic lyrics addressing many of the human rights issues facing the world and particularly Sub- Saharan Africa today: post- colonialist poverty, the plight of oppressed women and the dispossession of the indigenous San peoples, of which she is descendant. Still her music remains hopeful- an uplifting blend of reggae and soul, set in a soothing mid tempo groove.

Ernestine has collaborated and shared the stage with top S.A. artists as diverse as poet 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 and Neo Muyanga.

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.

She has collaborated with the Red Bull DJ Academy, working with amongst others, London dubstep producer, Ben Zinc, multi-talented L.A. trumpeter/vocalist, Aloe Blacc, as well as Parisian pianist/producer, Wally Badarou and French reggae band City Kay.

Ernie 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 and North Sea Jazz Festival, Spier Poetry Exchange.

During her first pregnancy in 2003, Ernestine was inspired to write an introspective account of her family’s history as 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 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 documentary 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.

Career highlights:

  • Performing for Nelson Mandela at age 19.
  • In April 2001, ‘Uneek’ with (Moodphase5ive) held no.1 on the P4 Radio charts for three consecutive weeks.
  • Moodphase5ive headlining with Morcheeba at the historic ‘Paradiso’ in Amsterdam, the famous nightclub that has hosted legends such as Bob Marley, Parliament, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimmy Hendrix and James Brown, 2002
  • Headlining with Jazzanova in Prague 2002
  • Writing the auto-biographical documentary, Brown in 2003, with it’s world premiere at Waterfront Cinema Nouveau, Cape Town– Encounters Documentary festival, 2004
  • Acting in and performing for the soundtrack of award-winning film, Boy called Twist, premiered in Cannes in 2005
  • Dub for Mama selected as ‘album of the week’ on Germany’s largest online radio station, wom.fm
  • Opening tracks, Think Again and Prayer for Cape Town were licensed by NOKIA LONDON for the N91 mobile phone in 2007.
  • 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'.
  • In 2008, Ernestine was selected by the U.S. Consulate General 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
  • Contributing 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
  • In 2009, Ernestine wrote and produced 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.
  • Performed with Baboti-a collaborative project with Johnny Clegg drummer, Barry van Zyl and fellow Moodphase5ive vocalist, Denver Turner at the Pan African Space Station (PASS) 2009
  • February 2010 performed White Paper Boats as part of the Infecting the City/ Spier Public Arts Festival at Alliance Francaise Cape Town
  • April 2010 performed at the Cape Town International Jazz festival with Mikanic and Zolani Mahola.
  • August 2010 Performed with Mac Mckenzie’s 27 piece Goema orchestra in Goema Symphony no. 1, guesting with Hilton Schilder and Madosini
  • August 2010- receives funding from the National Arts council, SA to develop and perform White Paper Boats
  • March 2011- performed with special guest ‘Jitsvinger’ at the Cape Town Festival 2011