SathiMa BEa BEnjaMin
Here are my acknowledgments to the folks who inspired, encouraged,
and supported my lifelong trip through this wonderful music called jazz.
When Carol asked me to do this list, I knew I had to think long and hard
and go back to the beginnings of my musical love aﬀair with interpret-
ing life and love through poems and song. My cousin Basil Rich (now
deceased) was the ﬁrst to tell me I had a beautiful voice. He played gui-
tar and on Saturday afternoons we would go to Aunt Ethel’s home in the
Cape Town suburb of Woodstock. Along with his friend Lennie Daniels,
a pianist, we would have a really great time working on popular music so
I would say ﬁrst on my list of thanks are Basil Rich and Lennie Daniels.
I should mention that during the week, while I was cooking with Ma
Benjamin, my grandmother, the radio played the bbc. The country at
that time was called the Union of South Africa. She would let me run to
the radio, where I had pen and paper to write down whatever words I
could catch. I listened to Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald,
Sarah Vaughan, Perry Como, Vera Lynn, Gracie Fields, Duke Ellington,
and Frankie Laine, among the popular singers of the day.
Later, when I moved to my mom’s house in Athlone, Cape Town, I
did some singing with my mom and my sister Joan at local bars, con-
certs, and cinemas. I was invited to a jazz gig by Bernie Smith, where I
was introduced to Anthony Schilder, the pianist. I think I also met Leslie
Cedries, the drummer, and the bassist whose name I have forgotten.
Word got around that I was a great jazz singer. I was introduced to all the
musicians who were working most of the time in the white nightclubs.
This included folks like the guitarists Louis Schouw and Kenny Jepthah;
the saxophonists Harold Jephthah and Jimmy Adams; the bassist Ba-
sil Moses; the pianists Henry February, Arthur Gilles, Vincent Kolbe,
Sammy Hartman, and Mervyn Jacobs; and the drummer Louis Cedrus. I
was taking lessons from Mervyn Jacobs, and I had just a few lessons when
he suddenly had a heart attack and died. Then there was the Schilder
family of musicians—Chris, Phillip, Jackie, Richard, and Anthony. And,