Amanda Black cuts a figure reassembling a monarch, she looked royal in a blue beaded wig, her face adorned with her trademark dots, when a local publication caught up with her for a chat recently.
“These dots make me feel in tune with my African culture,” she told DRUM.
Adding; “They are usually done by Xhosa women at traditional ceremonies, but I rock these every day to remind me of who I am – a proud Xhosa queen.”
It’s her never die attitude, bold, and firmness that witnessed the singer square off in a court with her former record label in a batle that resembled the biblical David and Goliath.
In the exclusive interview, Amanda revealed why she slapped Ambitiouz Entertainment with a lawsuit – which she recently won.
“Ambitiouz made me. I loved them to death, and I appreciate the platform they gave me. They helped me find my sound and my identity and I will be eternally grateful. It’s a pity things had to end up in court,” she said.
Her lawyer, Zola Majavu of Majavu and Associates, said the record company is indebted to her for something a little less than R1 million for overdue payment for bookings.
All outstanding amounts owed to her were eventually settled after the record label lost their appeal on the matter.
But, when contacted for comment, managing director Kgosi Mahumapelo said Ambitiouz Entertainment is a principled business. “I am not going to jump every time artists cough. The business can withstand anything because we are professional,” he said.
Amanda told the magazine that her relationship with the record company turned bitter when she began asking about booking fee charges.
“They said, don’t worry about it. Handle the music and we will handle the finances.
“That was not going to work for me. I needed transparency. I needed to know how much money I was still owed from the advance they gave me and how much I was making for every performance.
“There was just a lot happening that made me very unhappy,” she said.
She claimed things went from the pan into the fire when the label stopped paying her for bookings. “I was gigging but I wasn’t getting paid. When I called to ask why, I was given answers that didn’t make sense about me owing money instead,” she added.
THE award- winning singer continued doing gigs, not wanting to wash the dirty linen in public.
“For five months I was gigging but I wasn’t getting paid. I used my savings to pay rent, the band, transport and to survive.
“I didn’t want to taint my reputation and be the girl known for not pitching for gigs,” she went on.
After exhausting her savings, she started drawing from her credit card, finally maxing it out.
“I was miserable. The music was great, but I wanted to quit because I was unhappy. Everyone was singing along to my songs, but nothing was coming into my bank account.
“I was very discouraged and had no more fight left in me. I didn’t even want to perform anymore but I dragged myself onto the stage and smiled, hugged and took photos with fans like everything was okay,” she said.
In July, she could not bear it any more, and Amanda contemplated legal action against the company that produced her 2016 debut album, Amazulu.
“People told me to back down because I was a nobody fighting a giant.
“I was scared and alone. I didn’t trust anyone. At one point I was so paranoid I thought I was being followed.
“I didn’t go out at night unless it was to gigs. I kept a very low profile. I always had my doors locked and I completely isolated myself [ from family and friends].
“This entire trial just made me so depressed,” she shared.
It also sucked her up financially.
“The first lawyer assisted me until I could no longer afford the fees. The second one, a family member, pulled out. The third lawyer didn’t require upfront payment and stuck with me until the end,” she explained.
At one time, chips being down, she thought of surrendering.
“There was a point when I had given up and thought I was never going to make it out of that dark hole,” she said.
Amanda, who shot to stardom on Idols SA after having had entered the singing competition three times, has always been a fighter. The eldest of five children, she attributed it to her mother and the man in her life for carrying her through the trying moments.
It was hard, but she’s happy for managing to stand her ground and eventually won the case.
“Man, I feel alive again. I just hope other artists are resilient because many people are going through what I went through,” she said.
Things were so terrible and Amanda to seek counselling to help her regain composure from the experience.
“I feel like I still need to go for more sessions just to unpack the load I have been carrying because I was traumatised,” she shared.
The 26-year-old is also getting a shoulder to lean on in mom Fundiswa. “My mom is a legal adviser, so she went through all my legal documents before I consult a lawyer,” she said.
She has since taken it to mind her own her finances, with the launch of her record company, Afro Rockstar, she also has a contract with Sony Music and has since released a new album under her own record label.
The Sony deal means she now has more say over her money. “I’ve regained my power,” said Amanda.
The album has 18 tracks all written by Amanda, and she featured American singer Anthony Hamilton, whom she met during a storm at a festival in Mahikeng.
The album is titled Power, and also features newbie Ami Faku, the Soweto Gospel Choir and Nigerian star Adekunle Gold.
“The album is a medley of genres. I wanted to explore musical styles and be creative. There’s a touch of gospel, rock, alternative and a lot of R&B.
“It’s an album for everybody but I am still Amanda Black,” she added.
Her music depicts her true identity, and points out who she is.