Local musician and cancer survivor sings in support of PinkDrive

2011-01-27 00:00

DURBAN singer-songwriter, Toni Rowland, has penned a deeply personal and poignant song to help raise money for the PinkDrive breast cancer awareness campaign.

But coming up with the words for I Ris e, which Rowland co-wrote with her friends Ross Tapson and Nic Bigara, proved challenging. “I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 when I was 33 … so it was an emotional experience. I had to draw on what I’d been through, all the emotions that I went through, and to do it in a way that was musical,” she explained.

Rowland, who is currently in remission and has just completed a five-year treatment programme, was approached to write the song by PinkDrive director, Noelene Kotschan. John Ellis, former frontman of Tree63 and a fellow Durban North resident, produced and performed on the song — and now filmmaker Pete Mathews is busy working on a music video for I Rise.

“I jumped at the chance to make a video because it will bring the song to the notice of more people and hopefully get more radio stations to play it,” Rowland said. “All the money we raise from sales of the song goes to the PinkDrive, so the more awareness we have the better.”

For the video, Mathews plans to use breast cancer survivors and those who are currently battling the disease. The aim is to show how the disease affects those with cancer, and their friends and families — and also to show that cancer can be beaten.

“People are very fearful of breast cancer or any cancer for that matter,” Rowland says. “If we can show that people do survive, then we’ll be getting a really positive message out there.”

Mathews needs between 20 and 25 breast cancer survivors of all races, sexes and types for the video. So, if you would like to take part, please send your name, contact number, e-mail address, age and if possible, a picture of yourself to Rowland’s publicist and campaign representative, Tanya van Agthoven Marais at tva_pr@global.co.za

Rowland, who describes her sound as “classic and adult contemporary rock” has been a stalwart of the South African music scene for many years, first with her band Mantis, and now as a solo artist.

Her debut solo album, Unfolding, was recorded in Spain with legendary producer and songwriter Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep) and has sold well internationally.

There are now plans to rerelease it here at home, together with a music video for one of the tracks, I’ll Be Here Waiting.

“It was an absolute honour to work with Ken, he really understood where I wanted to go and helped me finally find the sound I was looking for,” Rowland said.

• If you would like to find out more about Toni Rowland, log on to www.­tonirowland.com

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

• To buy her album, go to iTunes, Amazon.com or www.myspace.com/tonirowland

• To buy the I Rise song go to ­rhythmmusicstore.com

What is the PinkDrive?

THE PinkDrive is a non-profit organisation founded on the belief that early detection saves lives.

It currently runs two mobile breast-check units operating through local clinics, community health centres and hospitals in Gauteng, while its educational unit travels to corporate and semi-urban areas around South Africa with the aim of helping disadvantaged communities to have accessible mammography education and screenings.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in South Africa, but if detected early enough it is curable. Since the establishment of the PinkDrive we have seen first hand the positive impact it has had on communities within South Africa,” says PinkDrive director Noelene Kotschan.

For more information visit www.pinkdrive.co.za

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