Phili pours her anger into single
As a member of Soweto Gospel Choir, Phili Faya has stood on some of the biggest stages in the world.
She shared hugs with Oprah Winfrey, had Will Smith sing her Happy Birthday and is on a first-name basis with Chris Martin. But even with such a charmed life, Faya says she remains bothered by the topic of land redistribution in SA. So passionate is she that today she releases her single Umhlaba, in which she laments a life of dispossession and the tribulations black people have to endure because of this lack.
"I'm angry, South Africans are angry, black people are angry. I write about what people talk about, what I read about in newspapers, what I see on the TV news and what I hear on radio.
"What I picked up is that we are not happy. We want our land that was taken from us. Our country is rich, we have all the resources that white people have taken and made their own."
Faya says the disruption caused by white dominance destroyed black life.
"They moved us from where we were comfortable and
decided for us to live in four-roomed houses while they are in the suburbs owning big houses and big farms. It's time for a change... we want our land back. We want to own our natural resources and everything that belongs to us, everything that was taken from us. I'm not trying to say they must leave our country but we deserve to live comfortably and they must bring back what belongs to us."
The poignant Umhlaba is rooted in Xhosa rhythms with a jazzy feel and could be a new war cry or anthem for the movement for land expropriation without compensation. It galvanises the fighting spirit with the stirring lyrics and the unrelenting beat.
Music runs in Faya's veins. Her father Chris Faya is a producer of the group Fakaza for which she sang but was never officially a member of. With legends of song such as Busi Mhlongo as family friends, Faya was exposed to great music at a young age, but it wasn't until her move to Johannesburg that she realised she could make a career out of it.
With her business administration qualification from Durban University of Technology she landed a job as a receptionist at a recording studio in Goud Street in Johannesburg.
She spent more time in the studio providing session vocals than pushing the pen and welcoming guests. A friend encouraged her to audition for Soweto Gospel Choir and she landed the spot in 2005 and so began her worldwide voyage.
Not too bad for a young woman from KwaMashu who just wanted to finish her studies, get married, have children and work 9am to 5pm.
She is an ambassador for iUnite, an organisation that donates technology equipment to the needy across the world, and represents them in SA.