Zimbabwean-Irish singer Pearl Natasha has enjoyed critical acclaim in Zimbabwe, South Africa and Malawi. She has played international stages including Live & Unsigned for Sea Sessions, Lake of STARS Festival & HIFA; radio and TV including Highland Radio, ZiFM Stereo, ZBC TV and Ocean FM Ireland; sharing her unique blend of Diasporan-Pop, featuring heavy African roots, lyrical ballads reminiscent of Irish folklore – all delivered with the powerful vocals of an experienced songstress.
This week we chatted to her about her music, and realised, as you will, that she is not only immensely talented, but is also wonderfully wise…..
1) Tell us about your background?
I was born in Zimbabwe, to a beautiful woman and a mystical man. I have never met my father or laid eyes on him. My mother is my best friend and my hero. You know those ‘overcoming adversity’ awards they give out – they should just give her the entire bunch. I moved to Ireland with my mom and my dad and a whole load of siblings when I was 10 and 22 days old. I would consider myself as a Zimbabwean raised in Ireland – an African in the Diaspora as some may say.
2) What made you fall in love with music?
The truth – music fell in love with me long before I even knew how to love. I had a hard childhood; I went through some harrowing stuff and music supported me in times when I didn’t know how to process my feelings. And years later, when I thought I was an adult, music saved me because writing helped me heal through a lot of pain that I couldn’t communicate. I always say, music is the one constant in my life; my heartbeat always reminds me of the rhythms of the melodies that sooth me to sleep at night, the pulses and vibrations that I dance to in the kitchen. Music loved me, and taught me how to love.
3) Were you encouraged as a musician? Did you get support growing up?
I have always sung, I remember singing in my mom’s living room at family parties in Zimbabwe. I was knee high to a grasshopper, belting out Tracey Chapman to all the grown-ups – that’s one of my earliest memories. I used to love the attention, I felt like people could actually see me when I was singing. That hasn’t changed.
When I was older and I now wanted to take music seriously, things changed and there was a bit of push back – being African, my mother wanted stability for me and my future and she still says, dropping out of university broke her heart, because she was filled with fear at what could/would happen next.
Now, I get support but something everyone says is, ‘I felt that’ after I sing. I guess for a lot of people, seeing is believing, and now that they have seen what I do, they feel why I feel the way I do about music – they understand.
3) Tell us about your teenage years? (Was it easy? Did you fit in? What were the challenges you faced?)
Far from easy. If I could describe them, it would be ‘hiding in plain sight’. I suffered trauma that sadly, too many women have experienced and this affected my teenage years. I hid the pain that I was going through and it’s in the last few years that I have started to understand and heal through this.
4) What’s the most important lesson you’ve ever learned?
The most important lesson I have ever learned is to ‘TRY’. Try, every single day of your life. Try and get out of bed. Try, to eat a meal. Try, to talk to someone. Try, to believe. Try, to face some of your fears. Try, to be alive. Try, to let yourself feel. Just try.
It’s a simple lesson, but a powerful one. Every day I wake up and I try. I don’t always achieve, but I always try.
5) What advice would you give younger girls who would love a career in music and don’t know where to start?
A career in music can be anything; from singing in front of gigantic crowds to singing in a nursery school. You can write songs for TV, or write songs to sing to your friends.
A career in music can only be one thing though; it can be whatever you make it. You will be the biggest obstacle in your way because your decisions, your ideas, your actions – they all affect the result.
So think fast, act slow, try hard and believe – believe in yourself above everything else because for a long time, you will be your only fan – so be your biggest fan.
6) What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I’ve ever been given actually comes from the Bible. Matthew 7: 1-3 says, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’
I remember this verse from church when I was still in Zimbabwe and it’s a verse that I repeat every day. We live in a world where we feel entitled to be judge and jury. Social media has given us egos beyond our measure and power that can be harmful and destructive. The newspapers pit us against each other, the TV tells us who’s beautiful. From childhood, we are in competition, seemingly fighting for the same patch of land but there is enough space, enough room for all of us to be great. You don’t have to pull someone down, for you to rise. Try not to judge someone for what you perceive as a flaw or a weakness, instead focus on yourself. Strengthen your mind and your heart. Be the cheerleader of your team, and when you see someone excelling, celebrate their successes. We all have the possibilities for greatness, and you stopping someone’s path doesn’t make you a better person.