POWER IS SHE
GLAMOUR South Africa|March 2020
Ambassador for adidas Originals, championing the launch of the adidas x IVY PARK collab, and the country’s most streamed female artist of 2019, Shekhinah is creating a space for self-empowerment and disrupting the entertainment industry.
SHANNON MANUEL

Coinciding with National Women’s Day, Shekhinah invited us to Rose Fest, a festival filled with fantasy that simultaneously celebrated the power of women in the South African music industry – each act was personally chosen by her – and her award-winning debut album, Rose Gold.

“I’ve wanted to own property in the music industry since I started working on my album a few years ago, and to host a festival that celebrates talented women in the SA music industry,” she says. “It took two years, which was longer than I expected because I had to work out all the logistics, but last year, we were finally ready to host Rose Fest in Joburg and Durban – and it really was something monumental for our country.

“The realization I’d never been booked for anything that celebrated women on Women’s Day was a big thing for me. Women are celebrated every August, yet bookings-wise it’s always my quietest time of year. I find that strange. That’s why I knew August would be a perfect time. Every show or festival I’ve performed at has been created by men – the fact a woman has never owned these is a big deal. We support all these men who put on their shows, but why aren’t more women on the same platform? Of my staff, 90% are women, I own the company and I’m a woman. I felt it was necessary to support other women, and it was also the right time.”

It was important to Shekhinah to show that you can support more than one female artist, without comparing them to each other, singling out their differences and drawing empty conclusions about who’s better – a trend that she’s fed up of. “I don’t want to pick one to support: I choose them all!” she says. The misconception that women can’t headline and carry a show is another patriarchal system that, in Shekhinah’s opinion, needs to undergo a shift.

“It’s the norm for popular line-ups to feature multiple male artists but only one woman, which is unfair. In one line-up there might be Casper, AKA and Nasty C, who’re three very expensive male artists, but you won’t see three very expensive female artists alongside them. It’s as though they’re obliged to feature one of us, and not because we don’t want to be involved. I want to change that, and even if I don’t, I want to make a difference. People are becoming more aware of the obvious sidelining of women, and they’re not accepting it.

“What people don’t realize is that [patriarchy] limits women’s belief in what we’re capable of, and it also dictates the way we think. We end up seeing it like, okay, we have to be friends with certain males to get certain things, or we have to know this person or we doubt we can build something on our own. There’s always a sense that you need to find someone or something [to help]; that you’re not good enough on your own. For me, it’s important not to fall into that way of thinking. I don’t have to tie my identity to men in the industry or be a part of a clique. I don’t feel that pressure, and I don’t want other women to either. Since my career began, that’s always been the mentality. I’m tired of it. It needs to stop. I want women to be known for who they are, and they should be free to construct their identities – independent of men and valued equally.”

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