I enjoyed a performance of Cape Town’s 4 Tons of Fun at Alexander Theatre last night. They paid tribute to the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin. Produced by Sthe Mfuphi, Soi Soi Gqeza, Bulelwa Sakayi, and Michelle Thomas, the show featured Aretha’s all-time favorites like “Respect,” “Natural Woman,” “Chain of Fools,” “A Deeper Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain”, “I Say A Little Prayer,” and “I’m Every Woman”.
“Combining their vocal power, skillful harmonies, and smoldering sensuality with vivacious energy, these larger-than-life women entertain like no other.”
Aretha Franklin’s iconic legacy spans over six decades – including 44 Grammy nominations with 18 wins and her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. The tribute included commentary about her life as a singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist.
“Aretha Franklin’s powerful distinctive gospel-honed vocal style influenced countless singers and earned her Rolling Stone Magazine’s No. 1 place on a list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.”
Songwriter, vocalist Sthe Mfuphi (Saxy Sthe) has roots in KwaZulu-Natal where she studied jazz at Natal Technikon. She moved to Cape Town in 2002. Sthe wrote songs for the group’s 2013 debut album Larger than Life, and a produced a music video for her original song “Usibali” – do not forget in English.
From East London Eastern Cape, Bulelwa Sakayi (Beautiful Bee) moved to Cape Town to study engineering, but decided to pursue a career in the performing arts. She’s performed in choral ensembles, film productions, television advertisements, and on stage. Bulelwa “adds a playful flavor to the group”.
Inspired by her drummer/vocalist father, Michelle Thomas (Mysterious Mich) began performing as a child. She attended the University of the Western Cape but ultimately decided to follow her lifelong passion for singing and performing. Michelle joined Sthe and Bee in 2007 to form 3 Tons of Fun.
Soi Soi Gqeza
A Cape Town Native, Soi Soi Gqeza (Sultry Soi Soi) began her singing career as a backup vocalist for artists like Brenda Nokuzola Fassie, Lucky Dube, and Winston Monwabisi Mankunku Ngozi. She performs a repertoire of light jazz standards and Afro-jazz with her band at restaurants, weddings, and corporate events. Soi Soi has performed in Spain, Vietnam, Bahrain, and Thailand. She’s entertained dignitaries including South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela.
The group has “wowed thousands of fans for over eleven years”. They’re “synonymous with great fun, positive energy, and big smiles”. It was a fantastic evening with a wonderfully diverse audience clapping, singing along, and dancing in place!