More Zambians Making It To The Big Time

Written By: The Lowdown - Feb• 01•01

smallcover2001-02More and more Zambian’s are making it to the big time.  On the music scene is Hil St Soul (pronounced Hil Street Soul) Zambian-born Hilary Mwelwa, who is doing it with help from her writer/producer partner Victor Redwood-Sawyerr.

Earlier this year Hilary invited club goers and radio listeners in the UK to turn on, tune in and shock out to the laid-back urban soundtrack of the debut double-header single Strictly A Vibe Thang and Feel Good Factor. The single rocketed straight in at No 1 in the Blues and Soul Hip list and at No 2 in the Music Week Urban chart.

Hilary, who lives in North London, has written for and sung with the likes of Incognito, Fierce and Femi Fem (Young Disciples). She follows the success of the singles Strictly A Vibe Thang and There For Me with the debut Hil St Soul album Soul Organic.  The album jumped straight to the No 1 position on the prestigious Blues & Soul Hip List chart upon its release in early October.

The Hil St Soul sound crosses the street-core/mainstream divide without creative compromise. The thirteen tracks on the album cover a range of black music flavours from nu classic soul to hip-hop, gospel to Latin, up-tempo funk to jazzy. “And we chose the ‘organic’ title to convey that it’s natural back-to-basics music with virtually no samples,” says Hilary. In addition to twelve original compositions, a cover of the Stevie Wonder/Aretha Franklin Sixties classic Until You Come Back To Me is included.Hil St Soul

On the silver screen is Thandie Newton, who was born in Zambia in 1972 of a Zimbabwean mother and British father.  At the age of eleven, she enrolled in London’s Art Educational School where she studied modern dance. However, a back injury forced her out of dance. This led to her auditioning for and receiving her first role in John Duigan’s “Flirting”. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and her then boy friend. However receiving no work because of her British accent, she returned to England where she went to Cambridge to study and received a degree in anthropology. However, between semesters she continued her acting and became noticed in demand for future film roles.

1998 proved to be a good year for Thandie. First, she married screenwriter/director Oliver Parker, whom she met while working on a BBC tele-drama. Next, she was cast in two important films – Besieged, a film by world-renown director Bernardo Bertolucci, and Beloved, the much-anticipated movie version of Toni Morrison’s acclaimed novel, also starring Oprah Winfrey. While neither film was tremendously successful at the box office, they offered an ideal showcase for Thandie’s remarkable talent. As far as box office success goes, Thandie has that now, with the release of Mission Impossible 2, where she co-stars with Tom Cruise.

thandiwe_-When casting for the Charlie’s Angels movie was underway, one name that kept being mentioned was that of Thandie Newton. Despite not having much commercial success on her record, the producers clearly believed in her talent. In the end, a delayed shoot for Mission Impossible 2 ruined Newton’s chances of being an angel, but the mere fact of being considered demonstrates just how far Thandie has come, and just how far she will soon go.

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