Zelda Benjamin, the unlikely jazz legend

uhren4Here’s a quick quiz question: which female jazz singer has thrilled Cape Town audiences continuously and consistently since the early ’60s.

There are not too many names that fit that bill but if you said Zelda Benjamin, give yourself a hand and collect your prize at the door.

Yep, Zelda has been plying her trade as a jazz singer since way back when – a touch over 60 years. Strangely enough, jazz singing isn’t really her “trade”.

In fact, Zelda has never been a “professional” jazz singer. She is quite emphatic about that. She’s been a nurse for a short while, a chemical analyst of sorts at a cleaning place, a Cape Town City Council housing branch employee, and a health worker dispensing contraceptive pills to young women.

For her, jazz singing has been a secondary thing. The day job, raising two children and running the house came first.

There are a few other interesting things about Cape Town’s “first lady jazz”.

She’s never recorded a song for commercial release.

She has never had any formal training as a singer.

She has never sung further away from home than Plettenberg Bay – and that was just a weekend gig.

She was born Zelda Uhren 80 years ago in District 6, with a father of Dutch Jewish origin.

And no, she’s not related to Bea Benjamin.  And don’t ask her why her Facebook name is ZEDLA Benjamin!!!

Read more about Zelda’s stellar career as a “part-time” jazz diva here.

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