Lady Day Big Band release debut album

Lady Day Big Band. Picture: Supplied

Lady Day Big Band. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 25, 2024


South Africa’s first all-women professional big band launched their debut album.

The Lady Day Big Band (LDBB) was founded in 2018 as a legacy project aimed at showcasing the talents of professional female musicians while fostering new talent.

The 22-piece-all women band introduced “Livus'umoya” yesterday and said they were ready to live up to the legacy of the illustrious Billy “Lady Day” Holiday, one of the most unforgettable pioneers of 20th century Jazz.

Founded by former Idols SA finalist Lana Crowster, Kelly Bell and Amanda Tiffin, the trio sets the bar high with their female-led band.

Amanda said: “It is an exciting time to spearhead a female-led project like this, in an industry and genre that is still male-dominated. Over the last six years we have seen how this initiative has raised the visibility of women musicians, and our members have benefited from this greatly. Many of our players have been booked to play in all kinds of projects and have grown in skill and confidence as a direct result of their involvement and performances with the band.

The band incorporates contemporary styles with traditional big band sounds, to give audiences an explosive experience of exciting big band music.

We spoke with Lana who is in Cape Town for the launch of the album.

Lana Crowster. Picture: Supplied

The Belhar born muso moved to New York two years ago to pursue her studies in Music Management and is still living abroad.

“I’ve been really fortunate to have been flown out at least once a year either for a gig or performance. I’m really grateful for those experiences. Every time I land, the first thing I do is I go and see my parents in Belhar and then hang out with my family and friends. I also buy a KitKat and Niknaks because I miss eating this in New York.”

She continues: “Having my own big band has always been a dream and after many years in the industry it was important to me to create a space, not only where women would feel physically safe but also where they felt comfortable to play their instrument, and explore their musicality and creativity through composition and arrangement.

“Recording an album went hand-in-hand with that purpose. I knew it would create an opportunity for some of our players to record in a professional studio for the first time in their careers, for others, it would give the opportunity to showcase their songwriting, composition and arrangement skills. Through the process of creating the album, we have all cultivated confidence in our skills as musicians.”

And concludes: “Learning, growing and evolving is in our credo, and the album was a perfect vehicle to tick all those boxes. In addition, our incredible performances since our debut in 2018 has always left our audiences wanting more, and now they’ll be able to enjoy our music wherever they are in the world.”

The band features an all-South African repertoire.

Amanda said: “We are passionate about showcasing South African works. Six out of the nine compositions have been penned by members of the LDBB and the other three tracks are big band re-imaginings of some South African classics.”