We meet Pilani Bubu, as she’s preparing to perform at the biggest World Music Expo, while wrapping the tenth season of her interior design TV show. Extraordinary for a woman once certain of a corporate career.

A multi-award winning storyteller, singer-songwriter, TV presenter and creative entrepreneur, Pilani Bubu’s life has been an extraordinary journey. 

As one of five children, family is a crucial part of Pilani’s life. So much so that she attributes her success in the creative industry to how she was raised and the opportunities her parents gave her. 

“How my parents raised us, really gave us the confidence, the courage as well as the brevity to pursue a lot of what we’ve done,” she explains. As part of her craft, she conveys authentic stories of inspiration, identity, and influence. Realising her true passion, Pilani decided to leave her corporate job to pursue a career in music. 

“Fundamentally, the thing that has really brought me back and pulled me into music…was always keeping this thread – in life we like to hobbify some of our things that we love when we should use those things to drive what we want to,” she says. For Pilani that meant working with people and creating music, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Over the last decade, Pilani has performed at multiple music venues and festivals both internationally and on local soil. Some of the most notable include the Drum Beat Festival, Grahamstown National Arts Festival, Jazz at Congo Square Festival, Café Istanbul with Jon Batiste, Live In Accra Jazz Festival, Ploiesti Jazz Festival and the Musique Metisse Festival in Angouleme. 

During her career, she has released three music projects: ‘Journey of a Heart’ (2012), ‘Warrior of Light’ (2016), and  Folklore – Chapter 1 (2019), which was co-produced with South African master guitarist Billy Monama and bassist Bheka Mthethwa.

Folklore – Chapter 1 was awarded the Best African Adult Contemporary Album at the 26th edition of the South African Music Awards (SAMA26). This year, she relaunched Folklore Chapter 2 in Paris and plans to relaunch it in South Africa in October of this year. 

Pilani is as much of a visual communicator. She has done incredible creative work as a storyteller, design thinker and strategist in the South African marketing and creative industries. In addition, she designs brands, graphic campaigns, interiors and has a bold eye for fashion. 

If at first you don’t hear her distinctive vibrato voice, you will definitely see her coming. Such is the impression she makes.

What is most exceptional is that Pilani’s decade long, five album musical career has been self-funded, self-managed and self-published.

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