Legendary African music icon, PJ Powers is Penelope Jane is returning to Uganda this month.
But unlike her last trip, she is returning for a charity concert organised by Girls Up Uganda, an NGO.
Dubbed ‘Jubalani Charity Concert’, it is scheduled for 30st June at Serena Hotel.
“I am not going to be paid for this but I was so touched by Monica’s (founder Girl Up) story. How a person like her would rise from the slums to one of the best universities in the world and now back to helping other girls. When she reached me, I welcomed the idea of being part of the event because this is one of the ways I could give back to the people of Uganda,” she said.
She added: “Reflecting on an amusing memory from a previous trip to Uganda, I love this country! It’s about 14 years since I was here. I really loved the country and Ugandans have always been loyal to me. Not that the rest of Africans don’t love me, they do but in all countries I have been to, Ugandans were most loyal to me. They helped my music career and this the best way I can give back.”
PJ’s first musical group was an all-girl band called Pantha. About a year later she joined Jimslip which in time became the famous ‘Hotline’. Hotline disbanded in 1987, after which PJ Powers pursued a solo career.
The year 1988 saw PJ banned from radio and TV for a year by the apartheid government for her performance at a charity concert for war orphans in Zimbabwe, together with Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte.
She was encouraged to continue her singing by Nelson Mandela, who sent her an encouraging letter from Victor Verster Prison in Cape Town.
In 1995, her recording of the Rugby World Cup official song featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo, ‘World in Union’, reached no. 47 on the UK Singles Chart. She performed the song live at the opening of the 1995 Rugby World Cup in Cape Town for a worldwide television audience.
In the ’90s, her music took on a more Afro-pop focus, finding a receptive audience in the black market, who gave her the nickname, “Thandeka” — “the loved one”.
Some of her biggest hits include; Feel So Strong, You’re So Good to Me, There is an Answer, Home to Africa and Jabulani.
P.J. sang for Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. She sang at the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela and at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. She collaborated with Vicky Sampson, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and M’du Masilela for the music video flighted at the United Nations Assembly in Washington, D.C. and in Greece.
P.J. also wrote an 85th birthday song for Mandela, which she sang for him and guests including Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey at his party in 2003.
The other performers at the concert are her record label-mates, Radio and Weasel.
PJ Powers was last in Uganda in April this year. During her weeklong stay in Uganda, she shot the video for her collabo with Radio & Weasel, ‘Home To Africa’. She also visited charity homes during her stay in the country.