Claire Phillips says she’s finally comfortable in her skin as a ‘self-taught, female, coloured artist’. Credit: PATRICK LOUW
Singer Claire Phillips has found her groove and says she’s finally comfortable in her own skin.

Born and raised in Belhar, the guitarist proudly calls herself a “self-taught, female, gay, coloured artist”.

“I remember when I was younger, I auditioned for this District Six theatre show. Taliep Pietersen and David Kramer were there and I was so nervous,” says Claire.

She didn’t make the cut but they did call her to tell her how impressed they were with her voice.

The 34-year-old marks 10 years in the music industry this year, and is ready to look back on her journey with her own show called It’s been a While.

“I want South Africans to love me like the fans in France and Germany do. And I’m not talking about awards, ’cos that is like glitter in the air - it’s not real,” she says.

Music is a very personal thing for her, she says all her songs come from a place of “pain, hurt, love or joy”.

One of her favourite songs is Spell on Me.

Claire explains: “It’s melodic and it’s uniquely me. When I was younger my dad would scold me and say: “You sang that great but where is your voice? The world has a Whitney, there’s already a Mariah.

“And I think Spell on Me is that – my voice.”

Claire says she knows she’s not the poster girl for RnB, but she likes it that way.

“It took me a while but I can say, I love me. I’m comfortable in my skin. I love my hair, I love my voice. This is me,” she says.

But despite her success, there’s still a long way to go.

“People ask me, why doesn’t that radio station play your music? The answer is enough people aren’t requesting it. If they get 1 000 or 2 000 requests to playlist the artist, they can’t ignore that.

“People forget that they have a lot of power in these things,” adds Claire.

She’s happy with the SABC’s 90 percent local music quota, but adds: “They need time to source the right music. Music should be chosen on merit, talent and listenership.”

Claire’s show is on at the Garden Court Theatre in Walmer Estate on August 6th and 7th.

She says: “It’s just me on the guitar and vocals and a live string section.”

“I’ve stripped it down, no bells and whistles. And with that arrangement you got nothing to hide behind, either you’re good or you’re pretending,” says Claire.