based: Cape Town 

Kirsty Adams is a South African singer, songwriter/composer, violinist, philanthropist from the city of Cape Town. Kirsty released her debut EP The Wings Beneath my Feather in April 2019 which combines her love for classical, pop and jazz music. Kirsty makes it her mission to self-produce music videos with all womxn crews to bring out the visual aesthetic of her music, applicable especially to her track ‘Distrubition’. Kirsty has collaborated with renowned South African artists including Johannesburg-based DJ Jazzuele, producer Sloani, film composer/producer Ben Ludika as well as artists such as Cape Town-based PHFAT and Aqeem Jones. Before her solo career, Kirsty played violin in the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra (USSO), sang for the Stellenbosch University Jazz band, performing at events such as the Cape Town Youth Jazz Festival, and performed in New York City at the Nyorican.

Kirsty hails from Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, as a graduate of Bachelor of Music (Cum Laude) and Masters in Music Composition (Cum Laude) degrees under the tutelage of Hans Roosenschoon. She trained in violin with Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra concert master Suzanne Martens, as well as played in the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra (USSO) during her studies at Stellenbosch University. She has composed music for various classical ensembles around South Africa and internationally including the Stockholm Saxophone Quartet in 2017, has premiered work internationally in Singapore in 2018, as well as composing for films such as the SAFTA-award winning documentary The Water Dancers (2018).

Philanthropy is a significant part of Kirsty’s life, which urged her to initiate her passion project The Platform to unite artists of Stellenbosch University to present a performance annually dedicated to making awareness of certain unspoken causes. She is also the brain behind the platform called Femme Art Cape Town (FACT) which aims to unite, empower and normalise the presence of womxn artists in the South African arts industry, in which she hosts its IGTV series called ‘That’s a FACT’. 

Kirsty Adams has been accepted to New York University to study a Masters in Songwriting with Billboard chart associated Prof. Phil Galdston in 2020, and she works relentlessly and hopes to raise the funds to make this dream a reality!

GET TO KNOW MORE ABOUT KIRSTY IN HER Q&A WITH RENOWNED MAGAZINE EDITOR, LINDSAY KING:

Singer, songwriter and violinist, Kirsty Adams, has just released her second music video, Distraction. Seasoned magazine editor (and fan) Lindsay King spoke to this talented artist about her achievements, dreams and passions.

Who is Kirsty Adams?

She doesn’t mind dessert before main meal. Peppermint crisp, anything chocolaty, just not dark chocolate. The sweet tooth is too strong. Some call it impulsive, she says its because ‘She knows what she wants’ (insert brown girl shrugging emoji). And that is just an analogy for many other things in my life…

Dance and yoga is life. If someone can sponsor me contemporary dance classes I would love you forever and you would be in my golden circle at every concert.

Kirsty can be clumsy sometimes. Like the time she made her grand exit from Grand Central Station in New York by having her bag tumble all the way down the long escalator.

She is comfy going anywhere alone, company is the bonus! Wouldn’t mind getting lost in a book store or any city. She’ll get that song/poem written when the inspiration strikes, even on her lonesome at the Raptor Room in Cape Town when inspired by her sorrows, as well as local music talents Emerger and Androgenius performing that evening. No time to waste!

I want my life to be a poem. And that’s why I write songs.

When did you discover your passion for music?

I was hooked the first time I walked into a music store and started playing the piano there, as well as marveling over all the instruments – it was like they were calling me over. I was probably only four years old.

You studied music at Stellenbosch University (SU) and have been academically very successful. Can you tell us more about your qualifications and what you are currently studying?

I am academically qualified as a musician. I obtained my Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees (in music composition), both Cum Laude, at SU. I obtained my master’s degree this year in March. I wrote my thesis on Designing a South African Popular Music Degree for South African Universities since no South African university offers a degree in popular music. I hope one day to incorporate such a degree at universities. Otherwise, I will open my own school.

What is your ultimate academic dream?

I want to obtain my PhD in music by writing a thesis on, broadly speaking, the academic credibility of popular music and music production.

Which instruments do you play?

I play the violin and piano. I have been training and playing these instruments for over 17 years.

I’ve recently seen your amazing performance at the Piano Bar in Cape Town. At which other trendy venues have you performed?

I have performed at The Crypt, Alma Café, Twelve Apostles, Young Blood Gallery, Cavalli Wine Estate and will be hosting my music video’s launch at The Raptor Room on 19 September 2019. I’ve also had the privilege of performing at Nyorican Poets’ Café in New York City.

What is your favourite music genre?

I like all music except for country music and hard techno.

What is your favourite instrument?

This is hard to say, but I definitely have a strong affinity with string instruments in general – that is violin, viola, cello and double bass. 

Who is your favourite musician?

Laura Mvula – she represents in her music a lot of what I wish to represent in my music: classical training, compositional approach to pop, poetry, spirituality and black female empowerment. Not only that, but I resonate a lot with her life itself as a musician in the sense that we were both classically trained by instrument, vocally trained in the more pop/choral/jazz vain, and we both once aspired to be film composers. I am in love with her music, and she is my ultimate inspiration.

Which performer would you like to share a stage with?

Chance the Rapper. I have always wanted to perform alongside a rapper and I have been a fan of him for his profound lyrics and for his quirky personality.

I’ve seen you perform across a number of genres, playing for very diverse audiences. How do you manage to do that and keep the crowd entertained at all times?

I am not much of a talker. This sounds spiritual, but I let my love for all kinds of music (except for country) resonate as I perform. I just make sure that the vocals and the lyrics are nailed in practice. And the rest is up to fate.

As a young artist, what is the hardest lesson that you have learnt?

Stop caring what people think. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.

What would you like to achieve with your music?

I want my music featured in series and films and I want to land the global stage with both my music and being able to curate the space around it.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?

Don’t be afraid to do what your dreams are telling you to do!