Extraordinary Life: PJ Powers
Marianne Thamm and Roger Lucey discuss the life of Penelope Jane Dunlop -- 'PJ Powers' - political activist and one of SA's most successful musicians.
Penelope Jane Dunlop, also known as PJ Powers and Thandeka (one who is loved), was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Her first music group was an all-girl band called Pantha. About a year later she joined Jimslip, which in time became the famous “Hotline” in which she was the lead singer until the band dissolved in 1987 and she pursued a solo career.
Powers played in the townships during apartheid and become politically active, joining the ANC in the 1980s. The year 1988 saw Powers banned from radio and TV for a year by the government following her performance at a charity concert for war orphans in Zimbabwe, along with Miriam Makeba and Harry Belafonte. She was encouraged to continue her singing by Nelson Mandela, who sent her an encouraging letter from Victor Verster Prison – he was said to be one of her biggest fans.
Powers has recorded 15 albums and is well known for her UK chart hit World in Union, which she recorded for the Rugby World Cup in 1995. She has battled alcoholism and has suffered from depression, but her Janis Joplin voice has survived and three decades after her career began, PJ is still performing and thriving.
Marianne Thamm is an author, journalist, opinionista, stand-up comic and sit-down satirist. She is writing PJ’s memoirs.
Roger Lucey is a former musician, journalist, filmmaker, actor and educator.
Extraordinary Lives is a biographical podcast series that celebrates the contribution that remarkable people have made on South Africa and the world. A well-known guest discusses the life of an extraordinary person who has inspired them. Extraordinary Lives is inspired by the BBC's “Great Lives” and is presented by Jonathan Ancer. It is produced by Triple World Score Media.