It’s 6:30am on Thursday morning and I’ve been awake since 4am. It’s been hard to adjust to the time change between the US and South Africa, since SA is seven hours ahead of Eastern Time.
It’s good that I’m up early today though, since today is media day in Johannesburg. We’re leaving the hotel in a half hour to visit two morning TV shows and a radio show before we come back to the hotel for a full press conference this afternoon. I’ll catch up with you later to let you know how the interviews went.
Our first stop this morning was to the eTV studios for the Sunrise show, which seemed similar to our Today Show, Good Morning America & CBS This Morning shows. We met with the show’s producers and then we met Sindy Mabe, the host – or the presenter – of the show. I learned today that in South Africa, they call the show’s host ‘presenter’ rather than ‘host.’
The Sunrise show was live, and I was surprised during a break between segments when they said we’d be taking calls from viewers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of our live TV news shows take callers before. We do it during radio interviews often, but it was nice to have some direct interaction with TV viewers for a change. They also showed a view of their Facebook page on air a couple times and read some entries to show what people were saying about the show and about the interview.
After the Sunrise show, we went upstairs for a quick interview on the set of Morning News Today on the eNews Channel, which is a 24-hour news station, similar to our CNN.
On our way out of the eTV studios, we ran into Afro’Traction, a soul singer in South Africa. He was also appearing on the news this morning because he’ll be opening for our show on Saturday. We took a quick photo together on our way out of the studios.
We headed to the Metro FM radio station next, which they tell me is South Africa’s largest R&B station with something like six million listeners nationwide. For the show, called ‘Total Bliss,’ they asked me to preselect a handful of songs for a segment called Office Power Play (OPP), where a few of a celebrity’s favorite R&B songs are played while they’re in studio. The host…I mean…‘presenter’ of the show was a woman named Azania, who also emceed our press conference this afternoon. The songs I chose for the OPP segment were: "Lady In My Life" by Michael Jackson; "Do Me Baby" by Prince; "Secret Garden" by Quincy Jones; "Saving All My Love" by Whitney Houston; "Between The Sheets" by the Isley Brothers and "My Funny Valentine" by Chaka Khan. The listeners seemed to like those songs also, judging by the Facebook comments that Azania read on-air.
After the OPP segment, I spoke with Azania about the number of artists who haven’t been to South Africa to perform. It’s amazing that so many major artists have never performed live here. It made me even more aware that I need to make a point to getting back here to perform more often.
Our large press conference was held at the hotel this afternoon. Afro’Traction and I were at the podium while Azania emceed. It was humbling to see how many media members were there to speak with us. I don’t take for granted the interest in the music in South Africa.
One of the highlights of the press conference was when the Universal Motown South Africa executives presented me with two Gold Record plaques for KEMISTRY and ALBUM II. They told us that both of those albums had achieved Gold status in South Africa, which is the country where my music sells the most outside of the US. I can’t thank the fans and the media here enough for their love and support!
Until next time…blessings!