Jazz legend Thandi Klaasen, born in South Africa, has always defied apartheid with her creative spirit. She grew up in Sophiatown, a melting pot of black political culture and resistance urbaine. Inspirée by singer and soloist Emily Kwenane the Jazz Maniacs, Thandi Klaasen began his career singing in local churches. Later, to rival the popular male local group The Manhattan Brothers, Klaasen initiated a female quartet, The Quad Sisters.
Teenager, she was attacked with acid, which resulted in a permanent disfigurement on his face. She spent nearly a year in hospital and her singing career was compromised. But Thandi has bravely overcome the obstacles of the tragedy and persevered in her singing career.
Speaking of this period, she said that “even if people in the street make you feel like you have leprosy or like you’re dirty … you must be strong. “
She played with The Harlem and The Gaieties Swingsters, but her career really took off when she played with Miriam Makeba, Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka and Sophie Mgcina – legends of all of the song. In early 1960, Thandi Klaasen was a star actress of the musical King Kong, Todd Matshikiza, who made a triumphant international tour.
Like many other black artists, Thandi Klaasen was forced to leave South Africa. Abroad she campaigned against apartheid and continued to sing, talking about the situation in his country and nostalgia of South Africa for freedom.
During her long career, Klaasen has shared the stage with great performers, including Roberta Flack and Patti Labelle. Despite many years touring abroad, she has remained true to her roots and humble beginnings to Kofifi (Sophiatown). Thandi Klaasen is indeed well known for its use of jargon e’Kasi, colloquial language of his beloved Sophiatown.
She draws strength and inspiration to be part of the oppressed who resisted harassment and police violence in the streets of Sophiatown – experience she evokes so bewitching in her singing. It is this strength and inspiration that inspired the art of Thandi Klaasen, thereby leading photographer Paul Indigo to describe her as “the epitome of the passion of an artist.”
Thandi Klaasen has received numerous awards, collected over 50 years of outstanding performances, including The Woman of Distinction Award received in Canada (1999) for his outstanding role in the political struggle. More recently, Thandi Klaasen was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony of 12th-MTN South African Music Awards. Thandi Klaasen ranks as a symbol that defines the golden age of music in South Africa, which has contributed so much. She also contributed to the creation of sustainable authentic cultural forms in modern South Africa – in opposition to the designs of apartheid planners. She is an icon and role model for many young South Africans and all over the world.