Cape Town - She saw herself as a South African Gladys Knight, telling love stories through music. Now she’s gone from a teen singing along to international artists, to having people singing along to her music! And it’s been surreal.
Inga Hina (28) burst onto the scene in 2016 after her vocals on Mobi Dixon's Trigger stole the hearts of many. The singer, born in Port Elizabeth, is now living the life she envisioned at 16, she tells Move!.
She had the strongest desire to be a soul singer like Gladys Knight, who an uncle introduced her to when she was young. “When I was around 10 my late uncle was part of a choir and they’d rehearse at home every weekend,” she says.
“I’d make sure that I was done cleaning the house because I wanted to listen and watch. At the time I couldn’t articulate that I wanted to be a singer.” She found a sense of belonging in music but was initially hesitant about a music career as she doubted her songwriting ability.
“A friend told me to give it a try and I’d write whatever came to mind. Most of the time it was really silly,” she says with a laugh. Eventually she got the hang of it once she started listening to more songs, and getting a feel for how other musicians wrote.
“I remember hearing singer Pink say she’s not poetic when she writes, she just tells stories as they are,” she says. At 19, she decided it was time to make her dream a reality. “I knocked on so many doors trying to secure gigs in the hope I’d be scouted”, she says.
The opportunity came when she least expected it – in the form of Mobi Dixon’s former manager. “We knew each other from PE and one day he asked me to go to a braai with him,” she says.
“When I got to the location it was actually a studio. Mobi had been working on some music. I hopped on to one of the tracks, which came to be Trigger.”
NOT SMOOTH SAILING
After the success of the song, her career started to blossom. But she still had a lot to learn. She recalls learning a hard lesson after a disagreement with a recording company. “I was young and misinformed. I went into studio without the right paperwork. I invested time and intellectual property and it backfired,” she says.
She wasn’t given much creative input and disagreed with the producer’s vision. When she shared her dissatisfaction, she was dismissed. “I recorded one of my songs and after production was complete, I didn’t like it at all. When I asked why it had been changed so drastically, I was basically told that I didn’t know much about making music,” she says.
Although her family believe in her, they fear the industry would ruin her, she shares. “I was raised by my grandmother who prioritised my wellbeing. She was sceptical about my career choice, but I grew to understand that it came from a place of love and concern,” she says.
Despite the hurdles along the way, she’s certain she made the right decision. And encourages others to always stick with their dreams. “This industry can be volatile to women, but I want them to keep chasing and fighting for their dreams,” she says.
“When you’re a woman and you get told that if you don’t make it by a certain age then you never will, it’s such a harsh concept,” she says. But Inga loves what she does. “For me, it’s not about the money. Having money is great but I just want to tell stories through music.”