Ernestine Deane

Affectionately known to her fans as ‘Ernie’, Ernestine Deane gained huge popularity in South Africa as lead vocalist for S.A. super group, Moodphase5ive.

Having released two albums with the live hip-hop band, Steady On and In Superdeluxe Mode and with several performances on local and international recordings, she independently released her debut solo album, Dub for Mama in 2007.

A natural storyteller, Ernestine’s lyrics cut to the bone. It is the combination of her honest song writing skills and unforgettable melodies that earns her royalties off several international and local compilation albums, commercials, soundtracks, documentaries and film scores. Born in 1974, Ernie grew up on the Cape Flats in Grassy Park, Cape Town and started singing professionally with Hip Hop legends, Black Noise, at the tender age of 15. Ernestine is herself a freelance arts journalist, contributing to publications such as the O Mag and South African arts quarterly, Rootz.

She has appeared on several television and radio shows locally and abroad. A former drama student, she put her acting skills to work playing the mother of Twist in the feature film Boy called Twist in 2003, a Cape Town take on the Dickens classic by acclaimed director Tim Greene. Her voice and original music also grace the film score. The film was warmly received at the 2005 Cannes film festival.

Ernestine has collaborated and shared the stage with top S.A. artists as diverse as poet Breyten Breytenbach, Arno Carstens, Mac Makenzie, Blk Sonshine, Hilton Schilder, Tamara Dey, Max Normal, Goddessa, Tasha Baxter, Concorde Nkabinde, Black Coffe, Simphiwe Dana, Barry van Zyl, Freshlyground, and Bongo Maffin. She has supported international artists, African stars: Cesaria Evora, Khadja Nin, Manu Dibango, Ismael Lo, Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela. Poets Sarah Jones, Saul Williams, Jamaican dub poet Mutabaraka. As well as English acts Morcheeba, Basement Jaxx, Mica Paris, Omar and Brand New Heavies. Some of the international festivals she has performed at are the Harlem Jazz Festival, Womad, Hove Live Festival, Pukkelop, Westerpop, Global Connection, The Lowlands Festival and The North Sea Jazz Festival.

During her first pregnancy in 2003, Ernestine was inspired to write an introspective account of her family’s history as landowners in the now affluent Cape Town wine land, Constantia, before they were forcibly removed by the Group Area’s Act instituted by the Apartheid government. This led to collaboration with filmmaker Kali van der Merwe of Otherwise Media to create the musical documentary, Brown. Their combined efforts resulted in a heartwarming and sensitive tale of triumph over suffering as punctuated by Ernie’s lyrics and script. The documentary film premiered at the 2004 Encounters Documentary Festival and garnered prestigious film awards at the 2005 Milano Film Festival in Italy (Best Afro/Asian/Latincategory), the annual Durban Film Festival and the Apollo Film Festival as Best African/South African Documentary. The film has traveled to international film festivals in Zanzibar, Switzerland, Italy, Czech Republic, and Australia and has been licensed for broadcast on SABC, DSTV and CTV.

In 2009 Ernestine produced White Paper Boats- an ongoing healing performance ritual that fuses music and origami-journeying through the impact of the slaveship route to South Africa

Her current projects include working on a second album, writing for her first Afrikaans release, hosting discussions/workshops using the film Brown as a tool to encourage men, women and youth to find their creative expression and explore their heritage as she does in the film, in an effort to better understand the origins of the challenges that face the so-called coloured community today. Ernie is currently fund-raising for her second musical documentary, Arikan Son as she spreads her wings as filmmaker, producing and co-directing the film. One of her well- loved music collaborations is an ongoing project called Womantide, where she joins forces with two other phenomenal female artists: singer/songwriter, Tina Schouw and playwright/performance poet, Malika Ndlovu. Womantide’s debut album, Yemenya’s Call, was launched in August 2009 at the Women Speak Festival, Artscape Theatre, Cape Town.