South African vocalist, composer, and lyricist Sathima Bea
Benjamin was born October 17, 1936 in Johannesburg and
raised in Cape Town, where she began singing in church.
a youth, she first performed popular music in talent contests
held during intermission at the local cinema and by the late
1950s she was singing at various nightclubs, community
dances and social events. She built her repertoire watching
British and American movies and listening to the radio,
where she discovered Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris
Day, Ella Fitzgerald and other jazz and pop singers who
would influence her early singing style.
At the age of 21, she joined Arthur Klugman's traveling
Coloured Jazz and Variety, on a tour of South Africa