EXCLUSIVE: Holly Rey On Being A Strong Woman

Holly chatted to the Zalebs team about bringing South Africans together through her music, being her own boss and securing the bag!

If you haven't heard of Holly Rey by now - where have you been?

The Durban-born singer who produced smash hits Deeper and You is making waves in the industry, and she's riding the wave of her success - as she deserves!

Holly is the first white female ever (and the second female after Brenda Fassie) to win Record of the Year at the South African Music Awards this year. Her new-found mainstream success has been a long time coming for the bubbly star who began her music career more than a decade ago.

But Holly reveals she's faced a lot of disappointments in her life; from being rejected by her father to being shunned by her peers in the industry. She then had to break the proverbial box as an independent female star in a male-dominated music industry. 

Holly's rise from child singer to superstar is the stuff movies are made of. She was on the verge of throwing in the towel of her music career when a producer friend invited her to record her breakthrough hit Deeper, which has become the anthem of note on radio stations around the country.

"Never giving up is always my a recipe for success. Keep creating, keep pushing, keep on keeping on" 

What makes Holly different from the rest? 

This one's an easy answer for Holly - it's "authenticity". She's a Rey of light (excuse the pun) in the industry! 

If you hear her music on the radio or listen to an interview of hers, you'll be forgiven for think she's a kasi girl with her street lingo, spunky attitude and sassy vocal. Once you meet her, you'll be captivated by her funky dance moves (she's downplays them LOL) and ability to get the crowd moving and grooving in no time. 

She’s also big on mastering indigenous languages (which she encourages all South Africans to do) as well as uniting fans through her music. 

“Learning an African language is possibly the single most important thing in our country right now. It's time ya'll! 

“If you struggling to learn to speak an African language at least try to understand one.... Diversity is EVERYTHING! If you can learn the real meaning of diversity you will laugh more, dance more, have more fun and just generally live a happier more joyful life. “

She’s an independent woman - who seeks no validation from anyone 

"I have a healthy respect for the industry but I don't seek validation,” 

Holly was raised by her single mother and grandmother at her home in KZN. This, in her words, has made her strong female she is today. 

"My mother and grandmother have handled life with so much grit and grace that I grew up believing in my strength as a woman. Life was not perfect and we had our struggles but I learnt early that hard work would get me anywhere.

But it’s a long way to go before more independent female artists like her become an exception to the rule in the industry. 

"The fact that there have only been two solo female artists who have won Record Of The Year in the history of the SAMA's demonstrates how the industry (and by this I mean the labels) put a bigger push behind their male artists. You can't tell me that in 20 years there was not a song by female artist that, if it had been given the right push, would not have won. There's also the unfair treatment the fairer sex face. 

"I understand that often as women we have to work five times as hard to get that slot, or that check so we are easily threatened and way more defensive, but we need to break the cycle. 

According to Holly, the key to change comes down to men in the industry who recognize the problem and start standing up for change, as well as the industry showing support to female artists all year-around and not just Women’s Month.

“I would love to see promoters doing all women line up's outside of August and throughout the year or rather curating more balanced line ups. We see all male line ups way too often for my liking. We will never develop female talent if we don't start there. 

Collecting her coins!

You won't see Holly making it rain with her hard-earned randelas. She's had a financial advisor since day one.

She recently bought her first car and paid her way through varsity (which she recently graduated cum laude with an Honour’s degree in Media and Communication - congrats, girl!)

And it's this mentality that has Holly's thinking about the future of her finance and not the here and now. 

"You have to look after the cents to make the Rands. It does not matter how much money you are making if you are not doing the right things with the money that your making you will never grow your wealth.

A decade in the making, and with lots of pearls of wisdom to impart

Holly has indeed started from the bottom, it's the fact that she’s a vessel of so much knowledge – which she gladly shares – is what makes her a true inspiration.

She also has advice those who follow in her footsteps - particularly independent female artists.

“Don't doubt your ability to be self reliant and self sufficient. Everything you need to know is at your finger tips and available on Google,”

“If you are at school, move to the front of the classroom, those friends at the back of the classroom are just distracting you from your purpose. Be the girl who put herself first. Attend workshops, research your industry, ask questions, put in the hours!

“Sebenza Ghel!,” she claims with what we imagine is a cheeky smile.

Holly's Top 3 Best dance moves
Vosho
KwasaKwasa
She wishes she could do one hip hop move properly

Local songs
DJ Maphorisa, Kabza Da Small and Samthing Soweto - Amantombazane
Gigi Lamayne ft Eminent Fam - Koze Kube Nini
Cassper Nyovest - Move For Me

Hottest local artists right now
Sho Madjozi
Simmy
Shekhinah

Fashion icons
Nhlannhla Nciza
Anne Marie
Enhle Mbali

Female influences
Nhlanhla Nciza
DJ Zinhle
Nomzamo Mbatha

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Main Image Credit: instragram/hollyreymusic

Written by:
ZAlebs Team