Singer Charlette Dickson will be launching her career as a solo singer at a benefit concert for NPO Women of Hope, at the Centre for the Book in Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town, on Saturday October 13.
“While I’ve been doing gigs and working as an add-on singer for a while, this concert is all me – I am the lead, so I’m coming out to the world and showing them that this is me,” she said.
Charlette was born in Johannesburg, but grew up in Pretoria and Zimbabwe as her father worked for a rural development company that had them travelling all over.
“My dad was a co-ordinator by day and a pastor by night, and that’s where my love for music came from. My father introduced me to jazz, and a combination of that and the church a cappella made me fall in love with music.”
She then moved to Athlone, but found it very hard to integrate into the Cape coloured society.
“I was this dark girl with bushy hair with a very English accent, and people never let me forget it. I tried very hard to get a cape coloured accent.”
She attended Blomvlei Road Baptist church in Athlone, where the church did many productions and musicals in which the youth could participate.
“I think that’s where I found my space. After I matriculated a joined a drama team at the church and I had to learn different mediums of entertainment such as clowning and miming.”
Charlette then took a gap year before enrolling at the UCT College of Music.
“I thought I knew what jazz was until I went to UCT. This is when I learnt about different levels of jazz. Jazz music tells a story in song – that’s what I love most… the way it lends itself to performance is beautiful.”
During college, Charlette auditioned for a Diana Ross and Tina Turner tribute show in Spain, where she stayed for nine months. While she was there, she was caught in a desert storm and the texture of her voice changed.
“My voice was now husky and I developed a cough. I struggled so much and I hated my voice. I didn’t sing for two years, but I still wrote songs while I did au-pairing as my day job.”
In an unexpected twist, she found herself on stage again while she was watching a concert, and they needed a singer.
“Unbeknown to me, an events co-ordinator was actually auditioning the band and told them ‘you’ve got the gig if this is the woman singing with you’. That’s how I got back into music.”
Charlette was introduced to the Women of Hope through one of the staff members, Estelle Woodman, at a dinner earlier this year.
“I needed a platform for my music and they needed an entertainer and when I heard about the work that the organisation does, I fell in love with it.
“When I was younger, I loved walking through the Company’s Garden and I’ve seen people who made the wrong decisions in life and ended up on the street. Women of Hope works with these people who are marginalised and tells them that they are worthy.”
She performed at some events for Women of Hope and then was also asked to perform at a benefit concert.
“I asked if I can make it my coming out party too, and they were keen,” she said with a giggle.
Charlette said while the city provides a good space for artists to grow, there are not enough live music spaces. “People need to support live music more.”
She said coming from Johannesburg, there is nothing like the creativity in Cape Town.
Charlette Dickson will be performing at the Centre for the Book on Saturday October 13 at 7pm. She will share the stage with the Little Giants Big Band, performing covers by Aretha Franklin, Patti Le Belle, Toto and more. A percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the Women of Hope Trust to assist them with their many projects.
The organisation provides support, food and shelter to homeless adults and children in Cape Town, assists senior citizens and helps disadvantage people find employment. Tickets cost R150 and are available at Quicket.