The tall figure, clad in a black-and-red lace dress, with the slick black hair streaked with red, could so easily have been a punk chick. But Hope, a grand piano-playing singer-songwriter is not so easily pigeonholed. She’s a one-woman show who does everything from pop-tinged folk to soul. Her lyrics are mature, and honest and her voice drips with emotion. This emotion is what captures the audience.
Durban-born Hope is on a national tour promoting her second album.
“This is a natural progression, chapter two, what comes next, and this is a little more positive,” she tells me as we chat over coffee at a café a couple of days after the performance. “My first album (Still, released in 2009) was when I was in a space of heartbreak and what I’ve gone through the past two years. This one is about putting yourself together, believing in who you are and doing it yourself,” says the 32-year-old. “I hear the honesty before I hear the music, uplifting, cheeky, punk-edged, just to keep it interesting,” she describes her sound.
Hope may have been dreaming of the muso life when she was a little girl but it was only realised once she took the bold step of quitting a her job as an admin manager in June 2009. “I had to follow my dreams to really find out who I am. The perk of being an admin manager is that it makes me an incredibly organised musician,” she chuckles. “I’m a very easy-going person but a neat freak, I’m a perfectionist,” says Hope, who runs her own website, writes her own press releases and manages her own career.
Hope’s extensive musical journey over the past few years has seen her grace the country’s premier music platforms, from the Splashy Fen Festival to Woodstock SA, Oppikoppi and The National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, where she earned the 2011 Standard Bank Ovation Award, alongside Chris Chameleon.
Hope says while she doesn’t for one moment regret quitting her job, being a full-time musician “has its moments and that’s why I have my tattoos to remind me that the seemingly gigantic mountains ahead of me seem climbable”, she says while showing me the boldly inked “Believe” tattoo across her wrist.
“The tour has been epic. The entire Fugard Theatre day was the highlight of my life – playing my dream show, the way I want to play. Having my name on the doors and flowers on my dressing table was so amazing.”
We look across to where her car is parked, plastered with white stars. “I love my stars, it’s a symbol of hope and direction,” she says, smiling.