Becoming Ramelo: New name, new sound for SA singer

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  • We chat to former The Voice SA contestant, Ramelo (formerly known as Lelo Ramasimong).
  • The singer tells us about her single, Heyi Wena - her debut as an independent recording artist. 
  • We also find out about her time on The Voice SA, her achievements in theatre, and what the future holds for this star.

She used to go by Lelo Ramasimong, but after a quick change to her stage name, Ramelo says she's ready to introduce the world to a side of her they have not seen before.

We chat to the former The Voice SA contestant about becoming "Ramelo", her time on the singing competition, her achievements in theatre and what the future holds.

This year you introduced fans to "Ramelo" after previously performing under the name Lelo Ramasimong. What sparked the change, and what does it signify for you?

The name change was really inspired by the fact that my sound as a recording artist is very different from anything I've ever done before in my onstage career. It's also an introduction to me as a recording artist, and I think, most importantly, it signifies my journey in the industry and the fact that I've grown and changed so much as a performer. So, essentially, Ramelo is the product of all my experiences in the arts and an affirmation of the kind of artist I want to be, which is diverse but also relevant -- someone that people can relate to.

You've had quite an incredible career so far, which includes taking the lead in a number of major stage productions as well as loaning your voice to television shows like Strictly Come Dancing. What have been some of the highlights for you? 

One of the major highlights of my career was winning a Naledi Award for best supporting actress in a musical as Shug Avery in The Color Purple. This was my first time ever playing a lead role, so it was a real big deal for me because it gave me a little more confidence in my abilities as an actor as any win does for anyone. The second would be releasing my first single Heyi Wena as an independent artist! It's not the easiest thing to do, but with the help of friends and family, it happened, and I'm so grateful.

What do you still hope to achieve?

I still want to create and release so much more music; I would like to perform my music all over the world and collaborate with different artists...honestly, there are no limits to my dreams.

Let's talk about your time on The Voice SA. Why did you decide to enter, and how did that journey shape your career?

Besides wanting to win...entering the competition was motivated by the fact that I wanted to introduce myself to a wider South African audience. The competition really helped to push my career in that way. 

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?

No, I don't think so; I think with competitions, nothing is set in stone anyway, so no matter what, what is meant to be will be.

What are some of the toughest lessons the industry has taught you so far? And if there's one lesson you could pass down to your younger self, what would it be?

I think the toughest lesson I've had to learn is that we all succeed and achieve great things at different times. I think it's so easy in our career to look at other people's success and then think you're not good enough or to doubt your career choice because it's taking so long to get to where you want to be. I have learnt that timing is everything and that you must stay the course and run your own race.

You released your debut single at the beginning of the year. Tell me a bit about Heyi Wena and what inspired it.

Heyi Wena was initially born out of frustration from feeling helpless as an artist in this country, particularly last year, where I felt like no one really cared about us and the dire situation the Covid-19 pandemic left us in. No work, no pay for almost over a year now, and it just felt like the powers that be were not taking more helpful, decisive action. With that said, the song is also about the human spirit and how we are all able to make lemonade when served lemons, and that's what we've all had to do during this time of uncertainty. The song is about taking back your own power and knowing that no matter what your circumstances might be, only you have the tools to change your own life with God's grace. 

Let's chat about your songwriting process. Where do you draw inspiration from when making music?

I've always felt the best place to draw inspiration from where my songwriting is concerned is from personal experiences. I think then the song resonates clearer and louder with more people because more often than not, as human beings, our experiences are similar, and we find a sense of peace and acceptance when we realise we are not the only ones going through something. This is what I hope to do with my music.

What should we expect from Ramelo in 2021?

Definitely more music, an EP and hopefully an album 

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