Jacqui Carpede, Mariechan Luiters and Liesl Penniken, are the key ingredients making up the proudly South African all-girl group Jamali. (The name, incidentally, came about by combining the first two letters of their first names.)

After rising to the top in South Africa’s version of the reality-based television show Popstars in 2004, the trio have continued to go from strength to strength, helping raise South Africa’s music scene to international standards and recently winning a SAMA for best English Pop Album.

From their first ABBA-borrowed single, Knowing Me, Knowing You, to urban ballad Ghetto Love, the three lovely ladies have stuck together and stayed true to their unique urban-pop musical style. The girls have three popular albums under their belts and are constantly in-demand to perform around the country.

Their latest album, 3rd Base, keeps their signature style, which mixes up a bit of everything from pop to kwaito, urban to adult contemporary and strong vocal ballads. Jacqui from Jamali talked exclusively to Mambaonline about fame, fans and their pending performance for a gay audience at the upcoming Qc2 White Ball Party in Johannesburg.

Who would be some of Jamali’s greatest inspirations, musically speaking?

We were all born in the 80’s, so our musical influences are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Brenda Fassie and several others. However we have different influences for different reasons, like song writing and performance.

How would you describe the kind of music that you make?

We actually don’t know how to describe our music. It’s got a little bit of everything: Pop, rock, RnB and even afro-pop.

Where were you when you heard your song on the radio for the first time?

It was about six years ago and we were on our way to a performance and Greatest Love, our first single, played on the radio. I remember rolling down the car window and screaming “that’s our song” to everyone in sight.

How has Jamali maintained itself as a successful group?

We are the first and only “manufactured group” to have three albums and two awards. Jamali is a company so we run ourselves like a business and that’s how we have successfully sustained ourselves over the last six years.

Why would you say other groups or artists that come out of reality talent searches like Popstars or Idols have failed to maintain this kind of strength?

It is very difficult to work with people you don’t know and it’s also very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are bigger than the group after winning. We were just lucky I guess because we come from similar backgrounds, our group is smaller and we do actually like each other.

What did you think about the recent voting fiasco with SA Idols?

We have nothing to say about Idols, we are Popstars!

“We have always wanted to reach people’s hearts. That’s what is most important to us…”

Would you say the individual members of Jamali have changed in any way since the first album?

Yes, definitely; we are older and sexier! On a serious note we’ve grown vocally and as songwriters and businesswomen.

Your music is clearly of international standard, what’s stopping you from conquering the rest of the globe?

Absolutely nothing! Ourselves and our record company are trying very hard to get us out there. We have faith and we believe anything is possible.

Would you say that receiving a SAMA for best Pop Album officially put Jamali on the Map? How important are those awards?

We’ve always conducted ourselves as professional artists. We’ve always made good music. Winning awards just makes you feel validated and appreciated as an artist so yes to a certain extent they are important.

Do any of you see yourselves pursuing solo careers in the future?

There is still so much we absolutely have to do as a group, so much we have to achieve, so no solo projects yet.

Are you aware of your gay fan base? Why do you think your music appeals to a gay audience?

Yes we are very aware. Our music was always designed to appeal to everyone regardless of colour, race, gay or straight. We have always wanted to reach people’s hearts. That’s what is most important to us.

You’ll be playing for a gay audience at the White Ball. Is this your first time at a gay party and are you looking forward to it?

First time and we can’t wait!

What are your feelings about gossip magazines and website and how they treat celebrities?

We don’t really pay attention to gossip because most of the time it’s not true.

Jamali’s appearance is always outstanding. Have you got any favourite designers or clothing lines dressing you at the moment?

Cameroon in Sandton hooks us up, so we always look good. We have our performance clothing specially made.

Lastly, who is Jamali currently listening to on their music players at home?

Katy Perry, Jennifer Hudson and Gangs of Instrumentals.

The Absolut White Ball, featuring a live performance by Jamali and 5FM DJ Erica Elle on the decks, takes place on Friday 5 June at Platinum nightclub in Fourways. For more information visit www.Qc2.co.za.

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