Interview with Ridge Magazine

hot off the press

Written by Garth Johnstone

Umhlanga has been hiding a funky and talented musician who could just be on the verge of stardom.

Shannon Hope’s no stranger to the stage. In fact, the former face of rock group Ketamine has always dreamed of starring on the stage and took her first solid steps towards that goal when she was a pupil at St. Mary’s in Kloof.

“I started playing the piano at six. My dream, originally, was to be a concert pianist,” she says when we meet during a lunch break in Glenashley. “St Mary’s has a very jacked up music programme and I completed all the formal studies in voice and piano there. Later I changed my goals when the nature of my music changed.”

Shannon – who grew up in Umhlanga and still lives in the area – has certainly lost none of her silky skills on the piano, and at the recent Backyard concert at Crusaders Club in Durban North, she oozed the confidence of someone completely comfortable in the limelight and with her instruments (voice and piano).

Her first stint in a band was with Caffeine Substitute in the late 1990s before she fronted Ketamine, whose greatest moment was a trip to Chicago to perform in a tribute concert for top alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins. She has also performed regularly at festival like Splashy Fen, Woodstock, Oppikoppi and White Mountain.

After a spell out of music about two years ago, Shannon returned to the stage recently when a friend asked her to do a guest performance at a gig. She hasn’t looked back since and has just released her first solo CD simply title STILL. “I felt I definitely had unfinished business with my music, something I wanted to say. And it felt absolutely fantastic to be back on stage. I was surprised by how good it felt,” she says.

“Initially I aimed to just get the album done, but it has grown into something much bigger and better than I ever imagined, without losing the original feeling and direction.”

While Shannon sometimes performs live with just guitar and piano, or alternatively with bass included, the CD, recorded at T-time studios in Cape Town, features a full band (including drums and cello).

“I believe South African music and audiences are maturing in terms of what they are producing and what they are willing to listen to,” she adds. “People are listening more closely and there is much more place now for acoustic and lyrically based music.

“My music is very personal and emotionally drive. I’d describe it as a personal commentary to my life. I believe people can relate to it because they identify with the message of the songs. If I reach just a few people with that message at a show, then I’m happy.”

The singer with the powerful voice and superb piano skills rates photography and rap jumping (the rather terrifying sounding sport of forward abseiling) as interests, and enjoys chilling with friends in her spare time.

Shannon has also launched a publishing company to promote her first solo CD and deal with all related administration demands.

We believe it’s just a matter before she will be taking her message to a much wider audience.

The CD STILL is available in local record stores.


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© Shannon Hope 2017