• Naledi Masilo

First Annual Dreaming Girls Music Conference!

The Dreaming Girls Music Conference is manifestation of the long held dream of Naledi Masilo, to empower and connect young women musicians beyond the world of entertainment. From high school Masilo knew she wanted to pursue a career in music, but she was despondent as her immediate world only saw music as a hobby and not a long-term, sustainable career choice. As a result, she went on to pursue a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Cape Town. Nonetheless, Masilo still pursued her passion for music alongside her studies for her degree, and at the end of her degree, she knew that it was time to shift her focus and go after her dreams. Currently, Masilo is studying Jazz Performance at the New England Conservatory in Boston, USA. She describes the conception of the conference as an articulation of a long-held dream that took place in her room while thinking about her future and the role of musicians in society. Despite the encouragement, the biggest challenge that Masilo was facing was that she was far-away, which meant that everything had to be done over email and phone calls until she came to South Africa. In Boston, she contacted four women who she states as inspiring and aligned with her vision to serve on the Advisory Board of the Dreaming Girls Foundation and this way she able to have people on the ground. A month before the conference, Masilo arrived in South Africa and started to build her team that consisted of friends, old classmates, family and community volunteers.

The conference took place from the 5th to the 7th of July in the South of Johannesburg. The purpose of the conference was to empower women, so that every woman can ‘boldly claim her space’. The conference was an intergenerational gathering, ranging the ages of thirteen to thirty-one years old. There were over 20 young women from all over the Southern Africa region including South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. Participants gathered to discuss topics on the emotional wellbeing of musicians; the challenges women face in the industry; the business side of the music industry; and the role of indigenous music in today’s society among others. Speakers included Nomfundo Xaluva -Metro FM Award Winning Musician-, Karen De Kock- Music Therapist- and Sky Dladla -African Multi-instrumentalist-, amongst others. Each session was aimed at developing the women through an intrapersonal, interpersonal, societal, and musical lens. For a lot of the participants the session of indigenous music session resonated the most with them. One participant emphasised that “western culture and knowledge has taken centre stage, and it is evident in the art and music that is celebrated today. It is time that we knew about our culture and embraced it”. To close the event a High Tea was hosted, which included members of the community and conference participants. At the High Tea, conference participants presented their capstone projects- an idea for a pragmatic social venture that participants could start-up in their communities. The capstone project is intended to help participants think beyond their role as musicians and entertainers and launch them into their journeys as social architects. The ideas were well received and the community was very impressed with the work that had taken place over the three days. The final note to a lovely weekend was the jam session with all the conference participants and dancing from the crowd. Being the first conference and foundation of its kind in this region, we are looking forward to the exponential growth yet to come for this foundation.

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