Born in Meadowlands Soweto, Brenda Sisane was bound to find her jazz-lined path. If the vast history she holds in the industry is anything to go by, it’s safe to say her rich jazz infused upbringing was destined for her name.
Behind the rhythm of jazz
Growing up in a space where her grandfather, a talented saxophonist, and a group of musicians serenaded the community, Brenda Sisane reminisces on her childhood fondly. And while her grandfather, who worked in Sophiatown around the same period as a legendary jazz musician, Kippie Moketsi, brought the soul of jazz to life within her, she found a commonality in how the music unites people.
Some of her earliest memories of jazz include touching exchanges of LP’s with her father. Young and vulnerable when her mother and father separated, Brenda was introduced to listening sessions at the age of 16.
This was the fundamental foundation that shaped her music knowledge and prowess as a voice for jazz in both the international and local arenas.
Locally grown, internationally seasoned
A woman who set the benchmark by achieving a number of firsts, she recalls her first international trip to Israel as a life-changing experience. Causing her to rethink and relearn everything she understood about religion, politics, life and people.
It was here that she realized with absolute certainty that communication would be her field of study. Where her peers were contemplating careers in medicine and science, Brenda Sisane wanted to figure out what makes the world tick.
A seasoned traveler, with working experience in a number of fields, in an alternate multiverse, she wonders if a life as an author surrounded by her other love, books would have fulfilled her. Perhaps. Then again, why would she tamper with destiny? Especially when life has been a clear display of serendipity at play.
A woman of soul
Her humble upbringing did not stunt her. Something she would like the youth to hold onto, is that, “the current situation you’re in, should not define your path.”
She recalls the luxuries she did without. Material possessions and everyday items many take for granted today.
“Where my friends were indulging in sandwiches with polony, eggs and cheese, there I was with what little my grandmother, mom and aunt could provide. I never once let that deter me. I was always in a position to count the blessings I did have.”
It is this worldly view that shapes the woman behind the microphone on a The Art of Sunday. With a passion for education in an off-the-grid fashion if you would, Brenda Sisane, enjoys working with talented, young musicians.
It is to her how she can keep the jazz life-wheel turning. Having just completed a music camp with a spirited music educator, the aim was to arm twenty aspiring jazz artists with the business, life, mental and industry skills to give them the edge in life.
The depth of her core
The hopeless romantic’s dinner with six people (dead or alive) would include authors Alice Walker, Oriah “Mountain Dreamer” and Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Her table would be complete with pioneers in their fields, probably Emahoy Tsegue and last but not least, someone who hit fame once off, then disappeared.
There’s that theme of first times again. Breaking internal barriers and personal boundaries, Sisane is firm on her conquering as many firsts as life will afford her. Her self-love is deep and true but acknowledges how isolating being a woman can be. For those times, she found solace and peace in the hidden realms of the books that she holds dear. Providing that escape from reality and the emotions that unapologetically consumed her.
She makes no excuses for her emotions. If anything, this is what drives her. Her love for her child and her innate instinct to protect, love and raise him solo.
To anyone seeking a deeper meaning to life, these words ring true, “None of it is personal.” This would be Sisane’s unfiltered message to her younger self. Looking back, she can now reflect at how finite the rejection of people in her past truly was. It did at the time wound her but she now understands why the universe removed them.
“You can’t control how people treat you. But you should never allow them to break you. We’re each on a journey to find ourselves. Each with our own gifts. Even if you are the only one who knows it. Believe it.” ~Brenda Sisane~
By: Natasha Archary