Cape Town, 24 February 2023 – Critically acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer, musical director, and vocal coach, RJ Benjamin returns to take on the charts, only this time, he’s got commanding backup.
Spotting the perfect match, RJ recruited award-winning and seminal master guitarist Cameron Ward to deliver even greater dimension and entirely homegrown and nurtured texture to “Yonela”, RJ’s brand-new, soon-to-be anthem.
Upbeat, heartfelt, smooth, and seductive, “Yonela’s” cheeky Afro jazz guitar licks and key changes support and elevate the beautiful and immediate choral chorus, all with graceful ease.
“While my wife was pregnant with my first of now two children, the full scope melodically and musically of a song came to me along with one word, Yonela,” RJ recalls. Not speaking fluent Xhosa, he didn’t know what the word meant, and after researching, he learned its meaning, ‘to be content (with what you have in the world)’.
“At the time, I thought the universe was telling me it was a song about my upcoming firstborn,” he explains. “The words didn’t reveal themselves as quickly as the rest of the song did, however.
“After attempting two full writing sessions with two long-time collaborators and trying to force a narrative about my firstborn, I still did not have the right words to match what I knew was incredible music and a timeless melody.”
In a fit of near desperation, RJ finally decided to give one more writing session with songwriter William Wolf a try, letting go of the narrative construct he had put on himself and the song.
“Almost instantly, I found the subject: my wife,” RJ says with a smile. “How we fell in love, all the way to proposing, are what I see as the pivotal lyrics of the song. ‘Sunset on a mountain by the sea, no time left, baby, will you marry me’ describes how I proposed to Chantal on Table Mountain at sunset on a New Year’s Eve. She often joked that it would be over if I hadn’t asked her to marry me by the end of that year—something I did not take lightly.”
Once RJ had laid down the vocals, it was on to the final element, that special ingredient, to create the perfect track.
“I wanted to collaborate with a guitarist who deeply understood South African and broader African guitar playing,” RJ recollects. “Cameron Ward was top of my mind, having been blown away by Cameron and his band many years prior at the Obs Fest in Cape Town.
He quickly responded to RJ’s request, and the two soon went back and forth online, with ideas between RJ in Johannesburg and Cameron in Cape Town.
“The lack of in-person interaction, though, was affecting the magic,” RJ points out. “So, I decided to fly to The Mother City to work with Cameron face-to-face, and within an hour, we had it. Something special inevitably happens when two creatives are working together in person.
“Thanks to the SAMPRA fund for providing the investment to make “Yonela” a reality, one that I can now share with the world,” RJ respectfully concludes.
Listen to “Yonela”
Written by – RJ Benjamin, William Wolf And Cameron Ward
Produced by RJ Benjamin
Publisher – Roy Ben Music
Track ISRC – QM4TW2375753
Follow and share RJ Benjamin’s story via:
For more information, artwork and interview opportunities, contact:
Martin Myers – email@example.com
Leave a Reply