Pebbles is clearly a fan of adjectives beginning with ‘P’. Her first album was titled Playful Soul and her more recent, sophomore album is called Phenomenal. It’s been seven years since South Africa first encountered Pebbles Gqunta. She broke into the music industry in what may seem by chance but according to her was destiny. The then 28-year old singer was asked to sing for a group of Outrageous records executives. Her voice clearly impressed the powers-that-be because then and there Pebbles was offered a record contract.
This was a major feat for the young songstress seeing as she would be joining a label which housed H2O, Zubz, Proverb and Optical Illusion, SA’s most original hip-hop acts of the time.
Born 36 years ago in Port Elizabeth, Pebbles spent the first 15 years of her life in the UK. Her unusual name comes courtesy of her grandmother, who was an avid watcher of The Flintstones.
“If it’s a girl, name her Pebbles!” her grandmother ordered. Fortunately for her, Pebbles was indeed a girl. Smiling at the memory, Pebbles laments it has been a bit of a tricky name to have because some people tend to not take her seriously when they hear it, often asking if it is indeed her real name.
Fast forward to the early Nineties and Pebbles was back home in Port Elizabeth, where she completed her last two grades of high school. She then went on to enroll for a degree at Rhodes University. “I completed a BParty,” she laughs. “I failed every subject except drama,” she says.
To please her father, Pebbles agreed to study towards a media degree, majoring in drama at Rhodes, but didn’t make it past her first year. Not one to give up, Pebbles joined her father’s company selling auto spares. “I was that chick who stood behind the counter, barely able to understand, let alone speak Xhosa. I would leave work crying everyday from frustration. I then learned everything I possibly could about car spares and enough of my mother tongue to get by, to a point where people would come in and ask for me,” she says.
After seven years, Pebbles left Port Elizabeth for Joburg and joined a friend in the city. For four years after signing with Outrageous records, Pebbles worked through several jobs until her first single, Destiny, was released in 2005. Her album Playful Soul put her on the industry map with two SAMA award nominations. Although her star was rising at a commendable pace, Pebbles emphasises that she preferred being away from the limelight.
Now seven years later, Pebbles comes across as a cultured woman who has grown into her own and knows exactly what she wants. A freelance producer for an animation company and a resident of Melville, Pebbles has found her happy place. As I meet her 15-year old son at the Melville Sports complex on a cold Saturday morning, I am struck by his resemblance to his mother. Pebbles joins us minutes later for her weekly tennis lesson.