Pilani Bubu  Picture: Supplied
Pilani Bubu Picture: Supplied

Folklore and the art of storytelling with Pilani Bubu

By MPILETSO MOTUMI Time of article published Feb 20, 2020

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Multifaceted artist Pilani Bubu is bringing her music journey to the Untitled Basement. 

The singer, designer and creative lifestyle activist will be sharing her voice through storytelling. 

“I’ve always been with music since I was young. Since the age of 9 I kind of discovered my talents in music. I used to play different instruments, I was in choir and media groups all through school.” 

It has been 10 years since the 35-year-old quit her corporate job to pursue a solo career in music.

“I started writing my own album then promoting and funding my own career as well as performing my projects around the world so it’s been a 10-year journey as an independent artist.” 

Being an independent artist comes with its challenges but Bubu has managed to find a balance.

“It is rewarding and it has huge sacrifices. You have to decide to focus on what it is you are doing which means you are always battling between time and financial resources. 

“What I have managed to do is to try and balance out resources- working my music for six months of the year and also fundraising for my music the other six months. I freelance and invest what my money is doing. It’s a worthwhile investment including all the elements that go with it- going to performing art schools, studying  and investing in actual products.”

Bubu’s biggest lesson has been to do everything she does well because no one will do it for her.  

“You need the vision of what you want and most importantly maintain your sense of authenticity. 

One of the most rewarding things is being able to be who I am, and sharing that journey authentically as it unfolds. People observed this struggle but also the joys because they see me achieving, unveiling, unfolding things that look easy but they are not. It is my calling to take people on that journey.” 

For her performance, Bubu will be launching her third studio album- Folklore: Chapter 1.

“I am telling the story of my journey in music, starting with the first album- Journey of the Heart which was the catalyst to me starting (songs) from a heartbreak. Warrior of Light was the album that encouraged me and others to continue to pursue your passion. Folklore is my identity piece.”

Bubu said over the years as she has explored her work she found that people of the world wanted to hear more about her roots. 

“They wanted to know more about me and my people, what our sounds were, what our music and folklore was. I found myself more passionate about telling African stories and capturing our culture and heritage. Folklore is essentially about that; sharing and artist storytelling - something I have done throughout most of my projects and the definitive piece I will continue to do for the rest of my life as an ongoing project.”

Having performed in festivals around the world such as The Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Women in Rising Concert, Jazz in the Park (US), Live in Accra Jazz Festival and The Drum Beat Festival Bubu will be sharing her colourful journey with her fans.

“I will be taking up residencies around the world and launching the project as an album. This year my focus is on Europe. But I will spend time in Ghana and Mozambique exploring their folklore. After the Europe tour I will come back to South Africa and go to the Transkei to document the stories I have written about into a coffee book table.”

Bubu will perform live at Untitled Basement in Braamfontein later this month. 

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